Lake Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Alabama - Metropolitan -

Located five miles north of the cities of Tuscaloosa and Northport in western Alabama (Metropolitan Region), Lake Tuscaloosa is a 5,885-acre reservoir which offers 177 miles of shoreline for boating, water skiing, swimming and fishing. Created in 1971 by the damming of North River, Lake Tuscaloosa is 92 feet at its deepest point with an average depth of 22 feet. Both the city and the reservoir were named after the Choctaw Indian chieftain Tuskaloosa (which means Black Warrior), who fought against Hernando de Soto in 1540 in the Battle of Mauvila.

Lake Tuscaloosa was constructed in 1969 to accommodate the rising population of the area which was consuming more water than its two current reservoirs, Harris Lake and Lake Nicol could provide. Lake Tuscaloosa has a capacity of approximately 40 billion gallons and can handle a withdrawal of approximately 200 million gallons per day. Because of this, Harris Lake is used primarily for industrial water, and Lake Nicol now serves as a backup. Unlike other reservoirs whose water levels can rise and fall throughout the year, depending on the needs of its users, Lake Tuscaloosa remains within a few feet of its normal elevation of 233 feet.

In 1970, The Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division began stocking sport fish into Lake Tuscaloosa which included largemouth bass, walleye, hybrid striped bass and saltwater striped bass. Unfortunately these fish did not acclimate well, and the ones that did survive became predators to the smaller resident fish. Stocking was discontinued in the 1980s, but some of these species still live in the lake. The most common sport fish found in Lake Tuscaloosa today include the Alabama spotted bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, and white crappie. Popular non-game fish include blue catfish, channel catfish, freshwater drum, and carp. Due to limited cover near the dam, fishing in that area is often poor. Upper areas of the lake near Binion and Turkey Creeks are generally best areas to fish. The lake drains into the Black Warrior River basin which is a very popular recreational area to anglers. Because of the lake’s steep banks, fishing is best from a boat, but shore fishing has resulted in a number of trophy sized fish. Anglers of all ages and skills will not be disappointed by the variety of fish in the lake.

In 2000, bass tournament results ranked Lake Tuscaloosa 11th out of 25 major reservoirs in pounds of bass caught per day. Lake Tuscaloosa was the site of the 2001 B.A.S.S. Federation Qualifying Tournament, which was held out of the Binion Creek Access Area. Each year, Lake Tuscaloosa is host to a number of local and state bass fishing tournaments.

For boaters, there are a number of public and private boat ramps located on Lake Tuscaloosa, as well as several private marinas. Detailed maps of the lake are available at local marinas and sporting goods stores. Boat lengths are limited to 24 feet for power and sail boats and 38 feet for pontoon boats. Boat rentals are readily available and getting out on the lake is rarely a problem.

Nature lovers will enjoy several county parks located on Lake Tuscaloosa. Carroll’s Creek Island County Park is located on the western side of the lake and has picnic tables, hiking trails, swimming areas and restroom facilities. Treasure Island County Park is actually an island and only accessible by boat. This park is for those who like to “rough it”. Picnic tables are scattered through the small island and there are primitive restroom facilities (outhouses). Camping is allowed on both islands. Watermelon Road County Park is located on the south west side of the lake and has picnic tables and a boat ramp. Tent sites and RV camping is also available at several of the local marinas.

For visitors who would like to spend some quality time on Lake Tuscaloosa, there are number of homes, cottages and cabins available for rent on and near the lake. Most are available year round, but be sure to book your lodging ahead of time if the Crimson Tide is playing a home game. The city of Tuscaloosa is the proud home of the University of Alabama and has all the excitement, sports and cultural activity that a major university brings to its hometown. Just five miles south from the south end of the lake, there is much to see and do in the city should you tire of the lake activities.

For those who prefer the country, Lake Lurleen State Park is located nine miles northwest of the city and has a 250-acre lake, fishing, swimming, modern camping, picnic areas, playgrounds, boat launches and rentals. For those who find Native American history fascination, you’ll want to take the short drive to Moundville Archaeological Park located just south of Tuscaloosa. Visitors can walk the 320-acre grounds and visit over 20 different prehistoric Indian mounds or view archeological treasures at the museum.

After a day of sightseeing, be sure to return to Lake Tuscaloosa and discover why residents, summer vacationers and weekend retreaters spend most of their time in or on the water. Although its primary purpose is to provide clean water for the residents, Lake Tuscaloosa’s recreational opportunities attract over three million visitors every year.

Things to do at Lake Tuscaloosa

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake Tuscaloosa

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Blue Catfish
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Freshwater Drum
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
  • Spotted Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • White Crappie

Lake Tuscaloosa Photo Gallery

Lake Tuscaloosa Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: City of Tuscaloosa

Surface Area: 5,885 acres

Shoreline Length: 177 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 223 feet

Average Depth: 22 feet

Maximum Depth: 92 feet

Water Volume: 123,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1971

Drainage Area: 432 sq. miles

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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