The Tennessee River has long been known as a good place to fish. A team from the Office of Archaeological Services at Moundville, Alabama discovered during research conducted in 1996 a fishhook made from deer bones underneath 15 feet of dirt that is estimated to be about 10,000 years old.
The Tennessee River at The Muscle Shoals is the location for recreational and tournament fishing, recreational boating, camping, tours of sites, and other activities.
Several prime fishing tournaments are held annually and attract many participants with events such as the Alabama Bass Trail. A recent description described it this way: From the Pickwick Lake in Florence to the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, the Alabama Bass Trail highlights 13 of the state’s best bass-fishing lakes. And the event is sanctioned by BASS. Fishing teams of two anglers per boat must compete in all five tournaments in their region – Northern or Southern Region. Each tournament has a guaranteed $10,000 first prize and while entry is open there is a cut-off at 225 boats. The annual event is held in October.
A Fishing Tournament held at McFarland Park in Florence, Alabama
An overview and the economic impact in 2016 include figures:
- The Heartland Anglers Classic, a two-day tournament with 189 anglers with an economic impact of $305,790.96.
- The Boat US Collegiate National Championship, a two-day event with 336 anglers with an economic impact of $845,800.19.
- The Walmart FLW Tour, a three-day event with 328 anglers with an economic impact of $1,166,479.82.
Recreational boating and fishing requires a license for Alabama residents between the ages of 16 and 64 who fish with rod and reel or artificial bait and a license to operate a boat. The economic benefit is reflected in statistics from the Lauderdale County License Commissioner for the period 3/1/16-3/1/17 when 514 fishing licenses were issued, and 7174 boats either renewed or new boats licenses issued. Of the 7174,411 were for new boats. Statistics do not reflect the economic benefit from boat and equipment sales, fuel, storage and other costs associated with river activities.
The River called the Tennessee, although creating recreational opportunities wasn’t one of TVA’s most important goals, local boaters have long appreciated the Tennessee. Boaters are discovering that the Tennessee offers some of the Nation’s finest freshwater cruising. To cruise the Tennessee is to see a slice of America. There are small farms, large cities and remnants of Indian and pioneer cultures mixed with striking evidence of today’s technology. Planned cruises on the Tennessee River, connecting with the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and north and south river connections are offered by professional guides.
The Tennessee River continues to have a tremendous effect on the economy of the entire region. Estimates in 2017 indicated the annual impact of the River in terms of waterfront and recreational property at $11.9 billion annually. Recreational and waterfront property accounted for 130,000 jobs annually.