Trout fishing in Shelby County : Cool stream near Vincent stocked with rainbows

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 28, 2007

So you love fly fishing, but haven&8217;t the time for a long trip to Colorado or maybe even to North Carolina.

What if you could take a short fly fishing trip and catch rainbow trout right here in Shelby County? We found the place for you!

We drove just north of Vincent, about nine miles on Highway 231, to the northeast county line. Randy Bearden met us at the gate to his farm.

We drove through the beautiful farm to the trout stream. Bearden&8217;s enthusiasm for his new project was very evident as he described the operation.

He told us that for many years he had been thinking about the cold spring feeding the stream, trying to discover a use that would be a benefit to the overall farming business.

Throughout the year, the stream temperature stays in the 50-degree range &8212; occasionally rising to the low 60s. Last year, only one time did the temperature rise as high as 63 degrees.

Bearden remarked that the trout prefer cold water, but that they can tolerate, for a few days, temperatures as high as 70 degrees.

Equipped with this knowledge and a real love for fly-fishing, he made the unusual decision to stock this Alabama stream with rainbow trout.

Bearden said, with a grin, &8220;It was a midlife crisis decision. At this time in life you want to do something new and different and I knew I could not take a girlfriend or buy a motorcycle, so the trout project seemed the best choice.&8221;

In September of 2006, the stream was stocked with the rainbows and a few albino rainbows brought down from North Carolina.

The fish weighed between two and six pounds each and gain an amazing 1.1 pounds for every pound of food they eat, so they are much larger now.

All of these fish are gorgeous and the albinos are stunningly so. They are easy to spot in the water and along with the others jump and dance about, giving just a flashing glimpse of their golden beauty.

We watched as Bearden fed the fish; that alone was worth the trip! He said that if we did not laugh aloud, we would be the first.

Spontaneously we did laugh as the playful fish leaped and cavorted, fighting for their share of the food. Later both Bearden and my companion each caught a nice size fish.

They gently pried the tiny flies out of their mouths and happily sent them on their way. Catching a rainbow is challenging and such fun – they put up a good fight and test the skill of the best fisherman.

These trout are ordinarily raised no further south than the Carolinas and those that are raised this far south usually die at the end of the cold season.

Bearden said, &8220;I believe that we will, because of the constant cold water from our spring, keep our fish alive year-round. The fish spawn only in cold, clear, tumbling water. Consequently, we will have to restock when the stream is fished out because we have not yet devised a way to duplicate the tumbling of the water. We&8217;re working on that.&8221;

The stream and the woodlands around the stream are just so pretty. It&8217;s a peaceful and relaxing setting &8212; a place you would love to spend a day, or longer.

Fishing is just an added attraction. Bearden told us that the trout stream is open to the public for fly fishing. He guarantees that you will catch a fish and that you will have a day of real fun.

Call before you go. The phone number is 965-0264.

For more information, Norman McMillan at 665-2714.

Catherine Legg can be reached at