August tends to be hot, muggy, and downright unpleasant in Alabama, but with a little driving and a little planning, anglers can do some river and stream fishing which will provide comfortable surroundings, as well as some fine and productive fishing.
Alabama anglers can find plenty of good river and stream fishing in some of the most attractive small waters which flow through the state, or anywhere else, for that matter. And while getting in the water might not be pleasant in winter, during the heat of summer, there’s nothing like a little wading or small craft floating to help keep anglers cool.
We have found some wonderful hot weather fishing locations which anglers can access easily and in a little time from any place in the state with a very comfortable drive.
Little River Canyon
Let’s start with a wonderful hot weather stream fishing spot. Little River Canyon in northeast Alabama is a very special place. It is reputed to be the deepest canyon east of the Mississippi River, and for anyone who has walked to the water from the roadway parking areas high above, we won’t get much argument about that claim. This is not an easy stroll to the fishing hole.
But what a gorgeous and spectacular place to find cool water on a hot Alabama summer day.
Now, if you’re not hot enough to go wade fishing in Little River when you start out, by the end of the hike from the parking area up on the ridge to the water at the bottom of the canyon, you will be. It’s a rough, steep hike from any of the river’s access areas down to the water, and it’s a tougher hike back up at the end of the day. However, most cool-water wade anglers think the trip down is worth the effort.
Lots of panfish and lots of aggressive redeye bass call Little River home, and on ultra-light spinning gear or especially on fly gear, the small creek fish in Little River are a blast. Try grasshopper flies and popping bugs on fly gear, and small dark-colored jigs and grubs for spinning gear.
Town Creek, DeKalb County
Just north of Sand Mountain, County Road 227 crosses Town Creek, a great location for wade fishing below the slide falls at the crossing. Hwy-75 northeast of Albertville is the best way to get to County Road 227.
Town Creek is rough, and wading is just about the only way to do some stream fishing here. Anglers on the shoreline will need good footwear because the rocks are slippery and will roll. Also, there are some deep holes which a careless angler can slip into. But the hungry and hard-fighting spotted bass and bream of all kinds are abundant in Town Creek, and they love to jump on small crankbaits, spinners, and soft plastics on mini-Carolina rigs.
There’s a very special place on Town Creek — High Falls Park, which is some ways downstream from the Country Road 227 crossing. This is a no-kidding high waterfall, and locals and visitors alike enjoy the view and some bold folks enjoy the plunge. It’s a sure-fire way to cool off from a hot morning of fishing in the creek. Folks who want to visit the park and its falling waters can access High Falls Park off CR-227. There are signs posted to show turn-off and directions.
Geraldine is the closest town of any size to Town Creek. Guntersville State Park is not too far from Town Creek, and visitors might want to consider staying there when exploring Town Creek. This is some pretty rugged country, but the cool water stream fishing is very good.
Magnolia River, Baldwin County
Classic coastal South surroundings with tall live oaks on the shore, cypress trees at the water’s edge, and the slow current of the river that takes a floater downstream to the confluence with Week’s Bay are what hot weather anglers find on Magnolia River near Foley, Alabama.
But up at the headwaters near the small settlement of Magnolia Springs, folks will find relief from the oppressive summertime heat with the influence of the cool waters of some big springs which pump much cooler water to start the flow of the river.
Known as “The Cold Hole” by locals, this area of spring water creates some very comfortable swimming and floating conditions which makes hot weather on the water much more pleasant. The spring flow is variable, and in drought conditions, the springs don’t put nearly as much cool water into the river as during normal conditions.
Anglers can put in a small craft at the headwaters and paddle downstream fishing as they go. There’s a very nice viewing area which allows paddlers access to the river at the small town of Magnolia Springs. In the upper reaches of the river, anglers will find largemouth bass, plenty of bream, and the occasional speckled trout or redfish.
Early in the morning before swimmers disturb the water, some good reds can be found in the immediate spring area.
After leaving the spring area, anglers on Magnolia River will find more and bigger reds and specks as the stream nears the salty water of Weeks Bay. Standard Gulf Coast rigs and baits will work fine here, and there’s nothing better for day in, day out Magnolia River fishing than a live shrimp below a popping cork.
Larger boat anglers can put in at Weeks Bay ramps, fish for a while and then motor upstream to “The Cold Hole” for a refreshing dip in the chilly water before making the hot run back to the dock.
Our buddy Tim Perkins is a champion tournament kayak bass angler, and he is also a schoolteacher, so he doesn‘t have a lot of time to fish during the school year. His cool weather fishing time is limited to weekends, so he fishes a great deal during hot, hot weather. When asked what makes hot weather fishing tough, he says, “I never said it was tough! During June, July, and August, I’m out river and stream fishing!”
Tim recommends the upper reaches of the Tallapoosa River above where it empties into Lake Wedowee in eastern Alabama in Cleburne County. The Tallapoosa enters Alabama from Georgia just north of I-20 and flows from there until it empties into Lake Widower.
He says, “The key element of hot weather, cool water river and stream fishing is current. Current in a stream provides oxygenated water. If you’re not fishing a current seam, you’re not catching fish. The fish will be tucked back in a pocket off the current. And if you’re not looking for structure in the main current, you’re not catching fish.”
The upper Tallapoosa River provides anglers thirty-five miles of good float fishing water, with lots of current. There are many shade-producing bluffs with native mountain laurel growing streamside. The stream is mostly long quiet pools with a few ripples and minor rapids to keep water moving and cooler.
An element which makes the upper Tallapoosa a favorite of Tim Perkins is shadows on the water. The river has good tree cover, and when an angler can find a stretch of the stream which has shadow along with a good current, it is a prime spot for river bass. By the way, anglers can expect to encounter largemouth, spotted, and redeye bass on the Tallapoosa.
Tim Perkin’s favorite hot weather/cool after lures are a buzz bait and a Zoom lizard soft plastic. And there are some very good sized bass in the Tallapoosa River. This is a good stream to catch a personal best flowing water bass.
Now, here’s the ultimate hot weather/cool water destination in Alabama. When the waters of Lake Smith are moved through the 300 foot-high dam and released into the Sipsey Fork below, the year-round constant water temperature is 48 to 50 degrees. That’s some chilly water when the air temps are getting close to 100 degrees!
Randy Jackson of Riverside Fly Shop tells us that wet-wading in the Sipsey Fork is not recommended. He says, “When it gets hot, folks try to wet-wade. The cold water numbs their feet, and they can’t feel the rocks on the rough bottom, and then they fall in.”
An overheated angler who falls into the cold water can suffer some immediate and severe thermal shock- which can be dangerous.
Randy Jackson advises anglers to wear waders to keep the legs and feet dry when cold water river and stream fishing, and also to use a wading staff. The staff prevents falling into the cold water and it also allows anglers to cover more territory when fishing.
For boat anglers on the Sipsey Fork, when a breeze blows across the cold water, it produces a sort of natural air conditioning, and it can be very nice in the hot summer air.
Of course, even the coolest water in Alabama is no protection for anglers from the rays of the sun. Hats and a good sunscreen are necessary.
But another advantage of river and stream fishing the cool, cool waters of the Sipsey Fork that most other Alabama waters don’t offer: no mosquitoes. The water is too cold for bare skin anglers, and it’s too cold for mosquitoes.
Alabama trout anglers can have good luck fishing the Sipsey Fork in hot weather, and both fly gear and ultra-light spinning gear works well. Look for deeper pockets and sheltered areas behind big rocks where trout can hold and wait for the current to bring something good to eat to them.
A hand dipped in the chilly water of Alabama’s only year-round trout stream is a good way to realize just how chilly summer water in Alabama can be, and just how refreshing cool water in hot weather is.
Important Contact Information
Riverside Trout Shop
17027 Hwy 69
Jasper, Al 35504
Guntersville State Park
1155 Lodge DR
Guntersville, AL 35976
Little River Canyon National Preserve
4322 Little River Trail
Fort Payne, AL 35967
This article first appeared in the August 2018 print issue of Great Days Outdoors Magazine. For more great hunting and fishing content for the deep South, subscribe to Great Days Outdoors print and digital editions or click the image to download this issue.