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Aliceville Lake, known to fishing locals as Pickensville Lake, is one of 10 lakes on the 234-mile man-made Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The Tenn-Tom, as the artificial waterway is popularly called, joins the Tennessee and Tombigbee Rivers and runs south through northeast Mississippi and western Alabama. The waterway, a US Army Corps of Engineers project, is a navigational shortcut that facilitates water traffic from the interior to the Gulf of Mexico and circumnavigates over 800 miles of travelling.
While the entire Tenn-Tom was officially opened to the public in 1985, Aliceville Lake was impounded by the Tom Bevill Lock and Dam five years earlier in 1980. The lake crosses the border between the nature-scape Pines Region of Mississippi and the action-packed Metropolitan Region of Alabama. The majority of the 8,300-acre body of water is in Pickens County, Alabama right next to the town of Pickensville and just a hand's throw from Aliceville in a land of timber and farms.
Pickensville Lake serves navigational, recreational and wildlife mitigation purposes along the waterway. Camping, picnicking, swimming, boating, fishing, hunting and bird watching are some of the activities available on the lake. The Pickensville Campground, Raleigh Ryan Access Area and Tom Bevill East and West Bank Fishing Areas provide a host of facilities to patrons that include parking, restrooms, wheelchair accessibility, and playgrounds.
Anglers enjoy a wide variety of fishing targets on Aliceville Lake, focusing mainly on the standing timber in the lake. When the lake was impounded, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division stocked it with 100,000 Florida largemouth bass. The lake today is popular for largemouth bass and crappie but also has abundant populations of bluegill, redear sunfish, catfish and drum. Note that, since 1993, there has been a 9-inch minimum length limit on crappie.
Wood ducks, Canada geese and migratory birds such as mallards, northern pintails, gadwalls and widgeons offer great bird watching opportunities. Hunters will find designated hunting areas and there are various hunting clubs scattered throughout Pickens County. White-tailed deer, quail, doves, wild turkey are popular game. The lands surrounding the Tenn-Tom Waterway are home to all kinds of plant and wildlife species, including some endangered or threatened species. The red hills salamander and gopher tortoise are two protected species and there is a project to restore the Southern bald eagle to the dominance it once had in the area.
The Tom Bevill Lock and Dam Visitor Center on Aliceville Lake invites visitors into a plantation mansion reproduction and houses exhibitions on the Tombigbee River and Waterway. Visitors can also picnic, hike and fish around the Center. The US Snagboat Montgomery, at the Visitor Center, is a museum boat and National Historic Landmark that offers educational activities, tours and fascinating maritime facts.
A small, rural town, Pickens County offers stirring history and a few points of interest near Pickensville Lake. The Aliceville Museum and Cultural Arts Center features the relics of German POWs (Prisoners of War) in Aliceville and commemorates the time when World War II German POWs were transported and taken to one of the largest WWII POW camps in The United States. In Carrollton sits the Pickens County Court House, which has in one of its windows the image of a ghostly face that has become symbolic of a local myth. Pickens County, home to international blues artist Willie King, is a place of southern rhythms and has strong bluegrass roots.
Lodging and dining is just as charming and southern as the area. After a satisfyingly long expedition on the waters, retire to a bed and breakfast Victorian house or satiate your hunger with southern cuisine specialties like fried catfish at one of the area's restaurants. An Aliceville Lake experience will leave you full, rested and wanting more.
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