Gadsden’s Black Creek Revisited

Featured photo courtesy of

On The Fly Freshwater

by Claude Preston

February 2021

Earlier this month we checked in with Frank Roden of Rainbow City Auction and Fly Shop to see how the second official season of fly fishing Black Creek was coming along.  In 2019 the City of Gadsden Parks and Recreation Department, along with partners from the Rainbow City Fly Fishing Club, and the Greater Gadsden Area Tourism worked to make trout fishing available below Noccalula Falls on Black Creek in Northeast Alabama.  Black Creek within Noccalula Falls Park is owned by the city and is located within three miles of downtown Gadsden.  The current official season opened on November 18, and is in full swing until June 30. 

Fly Fishing the South

Noccalula Falls on Black Creek. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

Alabama has been experiencing a cold early winter so far this year and Frank told us that has the rainbow trout really fired up.  “We are seeing more numbers close to the falls, and better chances of quality downstream, with the possibility of a catching a holdover from the first season. The average fish downstream is around 14 inches, but we have seen fish as large as 22 inches,” he explained, adding that would be a holdover. 

Casting below the waterfall. Photo courtesy of

The fishable area runs for about a mile and a half below the falls, with action slowing off a little shortly after the one-mile mark.  Black Creek receives two stockings of fish per year, one in November and the second in mid-February.  The average size fish that are stocked are in the 12- to 16-inch range.  Frank also told us that the upper part of the creek has been very busy recently, but with more locals fishing downstream.  Black Creek operates with catch-and-release regulations until April 30th. After that an angler can keep five fish per day. 

Photo courtesy of

Frank is happy with the success that Black Creek is yielding.  “When you get downstream of the falls you really feel like you are in a Smoky Mountain stream,” he said.  The creek has all of the great structures of those type streams –  boulders, rock bottoms, and pebble bottoms.

 Some of the best tactics for fishing are tight-line nymphing or, as the weather warms, floating a dry-dropper rig.  Franks says the key is getting your nymphs down in the colder weather. He suggests running an indicator 4 to 5 feet ahead of a barbless nymph.   Fly rods best suited for Black Creek are in the 3- to 5-weight range with a weight-forward floating line. 

When you plan your trip, start by making sure you have an Alabama fishing license. Also required is a trout permit, which can be bought by the day for $9 , a 3-day pass (consecutive) for $11, or a seasonal permit for only $30. Those are available at the Noccalulla Park Campground office or online.

Photos courtesy of

Now is the time to be out enjoying this great resorce in North Alabama.  For more information and full regulations visit

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