The five and a half mile float from Horseshoe Bend National Military Park to Jaybird Creek Landing is one of the most scenic stretches of river in the Southeast. Rocky shoals make up most of this stretch, and in late Spring shoal lilies (or cahaba lilies) call them home. As you enter into Irwin Shoals, high rock bluffs line the river with lush mountain laurel bushes and old growth hardwoods standing tall.
While most rivers in the Southeast suffer from pollution and poor water management, the Tallapoosa has managed to avoid these. Since the Tallapoosa does not flow through any metropolitan areas, the water is very clean. Due to the Piedmont geography of East Alabama and West Georgia, the water is very clear and most of the time you can see the bottom rocks and structures. The water clarity makes this stretch of river feel like a mountain river up North or out West.
Most of the land adjacent to the river are managed by hunting clubs, so there is very little development. Because of this, the wildlife is abundant on this stretch of the Tallapoosa also. It is very common to see a few bald eagles, cranes, herons, otters, and deer.
Then there is the fishing. The Tallapoosa River is an extremely diverse sport fishing river. There are four different types of bass species that can be caught at various times through the year. Spotted Bass, Redeye Bass, Largemouth Bass, and Striped Bass all inhabit the river. Since they live their life fighting the current, they are leaner but a whole lot meaner and aggressive than lake bass. A 2 lb spotted bass on a 5-6 weight fly rod fights just as hard as a smallmouth on a northern river.
The Redeye Bass is perhaps the most unique species found on the Tallapoosa River. While not as big as spots and largemouths, they are very aggressive and eager to eat smaller bugs and flies. They thrive in streams and rivers with current, and hey are also very colorful. Perhaps the best thing about the redeye bass is that they are only found in Alabama and parts of Georgia. Due to this, many people call these the "Bama Brook Trout".The float from Horseshoe Bend to Jaybird Creek features all of these fish species. If you catch a spotted bass, redeye bass, and a largemouth bass...you get the Tallapoosa Slam!
Floating this stretch can be technical, and it is advised to have have paddling experience before taking the float. While there are no huge rapids, there are many shoals to navigate and maneuver. Also, the river bed is very angular with little shallow gravel beds to wade. While there are some good places to get out and stretch your legs, be prepared to spend most of the time in the boat. You can always stop and get out on the boulders also. It takes about 6-8 hours to float this stretch under normal conditions.