Fishing and Floating Hatchet Creek
Hatchet Creek begins in the Talladega National Forest in Clay County, flows through Coosa County, and eventually empties into Mitchell Reservoir on the Coosa River. The creek drains 422 square miles, runs for approximately 40 miles, and drops over 400 feet in elevation. The watershed is secluded and heavily forested, and offers stunning scenery to outdoor adventurists. Rare Cahaba lilies are present in many shallow water areas of the creek and, when in full bloom, are literally breathtaking.
Along its span, there are numerous shoals and whitewater areas, especially during periods of adequate rainfall. Experienced canoeists and kayakers consider the creek to be of moderate difficulty, although some areas require skill to maneuver. When floating the creek at flows of less than around 400 cfs, boaters should be prepared to drag their vessel over rocks and shallow flats. Flows are typically the lowest during the summer months and highest in the late winter and early spring.
The creek offers a nice getaway for individuals or groups who wish to stay away from the more crowded whitewater creeks and rivers. Canoe put-in and take-out locations are at: 1) County Road 4 Bridge near East Mill; 2) Highway 280 Bridge near Goodwater; 3) Highway 231 Bridge north of Rockford; 4) Highway 29 Bridge north of Kelley’s Crossroads. In order to flow the entire length of the creek, overnight gear should be taken; however, short stretches of the creek like the portion between Highway 280 and Highway 231 can be done easily in one day.
The land on the bottom of the stream and land adjacent to the stream may be privately owned, and permission must be obtained from the landowner prior to crossing or wading these areas. Limited access can be obtained from county road bridge right-of-ways crossing the creek.
Aquatic biodiversity in Hatchet Creek is excellent, as 61 species of fish and 12 species of snails call the creek home, including the federally threatened Tulotoma snail. It offers reasonably good angling opportunities, but its popularity has lessened over the years. The primitive campground on Hatchet Creek north of Kelley’s Crossroads was once a very popular spring fishing site for white bass, as well as other species such as the southern walleye.
Although these species still inhabit the creek, degradation of the creek bed by heavy siltation has severely impacted their spring spawning runs. Restoration efforts for the southern walleye are currently ongoing by Fisheries Section biologists. The collection of walleye broodfish typically takes place during the month of February. These fish are used by hatchery personnel for spawning and restocking purposes. Few walleye are being collected.
Other popular game fish that are found in flowing portions of Hatchet Creek include largemouth bass, spotted bass, redeye bass, bluegill, redear sunfish (shellcracker), longear sunfish, and redbreast sunfish.
Barrett's Fish Camp is on Lake Mitchell and can be a take-out point for Hatchet Creek paddlers.
For more information on Hatchet Creek, please contact the District II Fisheries Office.