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North River, Tuscaloosa County

Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division

Fish and Fishing in North River

 sport fish restoration

North River flows through portions of Fayette and Tuscaloosa counties in west central Alabama. This small river eventually flows into the Black Warrior River just north of the City of Tuscaloosa, between Holt Reservoir and Oliver Reservoir. North River is 45 miles long and drains an area of approximately 418 square miles.

The lower section of North River was impounded in 1969 by the City of Tuscaloosa to create Lake Tuscaloosa, a 5,885-acre reservoir, which serves as the main drinking water supply for the cities of Tuscaloosa and Northport.  Because most organic materials were removed during construction, waters within the lake are relatively clear and very infertile.

Due to its unique habitat and geology, numerous species of mussels are found in North River, including two endangered species (dark pigtoe and orange-nacre mucket).  Abundant mussel populations are usually an indicator of the relative health of a stream or watershed. Excessive contaminants or siltation entering a stream or river can severely impact mussel populations and reduce suitable habitat.

North River also provides good recreational fishing to anglers, who enjoy fishing for spotted bass, largemouth bass, white crappie, bluegill, redear sunfish (shellcracker), channel catfish, chain pickerel, and occasionally, even walleye. Non-game species such as blacktailed redhorse (suckers), freshwater drum, bowfin, brook silversides and various darter species are also common in riverine sections below the headwaters of North River.  The fish species black madtom was first described using a specimen from a spring tributary of North River.

Access to North River can be obtained using two Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries access areas located at: 1) Binion Creek Access off U.S. 43N on Lake Tuscaloosa, and 2) Riverview Access on the Black Warrior River off U.S. 82 near the Holt exit.  Wade and bank fishing opportunities are limited in riverine sections because property along much of North River is privately owned. The North River in Tuscaloosa County was determined to be navigable in Township 18S, Range 10W and Section 22 and all downstream from there, but not navigable upstream including Fayette County.  The determination "navigable" means the bottom of the stream belongs to the State of Alabama.  Public access for bank fishing along Lake Tuscaloosa is readily available at many locations, and public use areas which are indicated on maps that can be readily purchased at local sporting goods stores and marinas.

Links (disclaimer):

Fishing license information may be found at: Licenses. Instant licensing is available via Internet (2% fee) or telephone 1-888-848-6887 ($3.95 fee). Fishing licenses may also be purchased at local bait and tackle stores and county probate offices.  Youth age 15 and younger fish for free. Alabama residents age 65 or older are not required to purchase a fishing license.
Possession and creel limits for Alabama public waters are listed at: Creel Limits

The US Geological Survey gives water discharge estimates and gage heights for the North River near Samantha.

The North River has a fish consumption advisory. Information on the consumption advisory may be found at the Alabama Department of Public Health Web site, www.adph.org. Consumption advisory information is found in "A-Z Contents" under "Fish Consumption Advisories."

The Fisheries Section's District III biologist can answer specific questions about North River at Jay.Haffner@dcnr.alabama.gov.

"It shall be unlawful to intentionally stock or release any fish, mussel, snail, crayfish or their embryos including bait fish into the public waters of Alabama under the jurisdiction of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries as provided in Rule 220-2-.42 except those waters from which it came without the written permission of a designated employee of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources authorized by the Director of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries to issue such permit. The provisions of this rule shall not apply to the incidental release of bait into the water during the normal process of fishing."


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Prepared by: Fisheries Section, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. This site is presented for information only the Fisheries Section cannot be responsible for the quality of information or services offered through linked sites, disclaimer. To have your site included, send your URL, email address, or telephone number to the Fisheries Web Master, doug.darr@dcnr.alabama.gov. The Fisheries Section reserves the right to select sites based on relevant and appropriate content of interest to our viewers. If you discover errors in the content or links of this page, please contact Doug Darr. Thank you.

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