Fish and Fishing the Upper Tallapoosa River in Alabama
The Tallapoosa River originates in Paulding County, Georgia, just 40 miles west of Atlanta; and it flows into Alabama in Cleburne County, about 2 miles east of the small community of Muscadine. The Loyd Owens Canoe Trail begins about 3 miles down the Tallapoosa River after it enters Alabama. The canoe trail was developed along the Tallapoosa River in Cleburne County in 1999 through efforts of the Soil and Water Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Cleburne County Commission. This canoe trail, which meanders 44 miles through Cleburne County, offers 9 access points along the Tallapoosa River. It provides a great opportunity for canoeists and kayakers who wish to float the scenic river, enjoy the aesthetics of the rural area, and possibly try their hand at angling for a few bass and/or bream. The river is home to redeye bass, spotted bass, and largemouth bass, as well as bluegill and redbreast sunfish. You can also catch catfish, both channel catfish and flathead catfish.
The first ramp on the trail is at the County Road (CR) 72 bridge, 1 ½ miles below Muscadine. The second ramp is located at Dryden’s Mill Campsite, about 7.3 miles downstream at CR 448. This location has a pavilion, an area for tent camping, a concrete launch ramp, and toilet facilities. It is about 1 ½ miles downriver to the third access point on the trail at the CR 66 bridge. You will have to drive through a hayfield to reach this access point which does not have steps at the river"s edge. From here, it is a fairly long float of about 8 miles to the fourth access point at CR 482.
The fifth access point is at the CR 71 Bridge, only about 2.3 miles downriver; but it has no steps down to the river. The next float trip continues downriver for 2.3 miles to the Tallapoosa River Outfitters launch or the HWY 46 ramp (sixth access point), which are in close proximity to each other. The seventh access point is a respectable float of 6.9 miles downstream to the Evans Bridge ramp, at CR 84. The eighth access ramp is located at the CR 19 Bridge, approximately 5.3 miles down the Tallapoosa. A final access ramp is at the 431 bridge crossing, but the Howle and Turner Dam at CR 36 is between these final two access points, with no easy way for floaters to portage around. However, a nice float of about 6 miles could be made from the US HWY 431 launch down to Lee’s Bridge (CR 88). At this point, the water starts to back up from Harris Reservoir, requiring motorized watercraft.
Two outfitters can provide canoes, kayaks, float tubes and shuttle service. The Tallapoosa River Outfitters is located at Bells Mill, just south of the Hwy 46 bridge; and their web site is www.tallapoosariveroutfitters.com/. They are open on Saturdays and Sundays only.
Southern Canoe Outfitters is located just south of I-20 at Exit 210 (Ranburne/Abernathy) and their web site is www.southerncanoeoutfitters.com/.
It is recommended that you check the Heflin USGS gauge readings for the Tallapoosa River before planning a trip http://waterdata.usgs.gov/al/nwis/uv?02412000. The minimum gauge height for a successful float trip is 2 ft., and the maximum height would be about 5-½ ft.
For more information on the Tallapoosa River, please contact the District II Fisheries Office.