Cast Your Line in the Most Biodiverse River in North America
It may surprise you, but Tennessee is home to the most biodiverse river in the United States. The Duck River is home to more than 150 species of fish, making it an extraordinary spot for both the casual and adventurous fishermen.
Source: Tennessee On The Fly
Types of Fish in the Duck River
The most abundant types of fish in the Duck River are Largemouth, Smallmouth, Rock, and Spotted Bass as well as Catfish. Smallmouth Bass up to 20”, Spotted Bass less than 10” long, and Catfish at an average length of 13” can be found along the Duck River according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).
Where to Fish
Spanning 284 miles, the Duck River runs through six counties in middle Tennessee: Coffee County, Bedford County, Marshall County, Maury County, Hickman County and Humphreys County. There are several major towns along the Duck River with a wide variety of entertainment, recreation, and cultural activities including Manchester, Columbia, Shelbyville and Centerville.
There are at least 30 public fishing access areas on the Duck River. You can find a full list of these access points on the TWRA website, however here are some of the most popular places for fishing:
Old Stone Fort State Archeological Park 732 Stone Fort Dr, Manchester, TN 37355
Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park provides several miles of bank and boat fishing. This spot is a favorite among bass fishers. If you’re looking to fish different environments and circumstances, the mixture of deep, limestone pools and short pools found at Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park make for a challenging catch. One of the most popular places to cast a line in the park is on the bank of Big Falls. It is one of nearly 10 waterfalls in Old Stone Fort State Archeological Park. According to Hook and Bullet, the best times for fishing at Big Falls are early to mid-morning—between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. and around 11 a.m. It doesn’t matter what your preferred method of casting is because you’re likely to get a bite here anytime between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. here. TWRA experts recommend using live bait to catch the biggest fish at Big Falls.
Normandy, TN 37360
The four most popular types of fishing at Normandy Reservoir are Black Bass, Crappie, Walleye, and Catfish fishing. Your best chance at catching Rainbow and Brown Trout is below the Normandy Dam. There are four public boating access ramps and two public fishing piers at the Barton Springs boat access site. Anyone can enjoy bank fishing at the Normandy Dam boat access site. You may also be able to wade into the water depending on the stream flow.
Three Forks Bridge
Wartrace, TN 37183
Trout are abundant from November through June near Three Forks Bridge downstream of the Normandy Dam. If you’re interested in a fishing float, you can put your canoe or kayak in at the paddle access point and float down to a second bridge closer to the Town of Normandy. TWRA suggests floating further to the State Highway 41A bridge near Shelbyville, Tennessee. Rock Bass will be more plentiful than any other fish along this stretch of the Duck River.
Henry Horton State Park
4209 Nashville Hwy, Chapel Hill, TN 37034
Experienced fishermen say to fish from a boat in Henry Horton State Park. If you don’t own a boat however, take the Wilhoite Trail to some dam remains and fish from the bank there or explore the bank behind the campgrounds. You’re most likely to catch Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Redeye, and Catfish in this area. There are also many public access points downstream from Henry Horton State Park in Milltown, Leftwhich, Iron Bridge, and Yanahli, which makes this middle stretch of the Duck River great for float fishing.
142 N Central Ave, Centerville, TN 37033
Centerville RiverPark is just east of the Centerville Town Square. There is a paddle access point with a long enough bank to support several dozen fishermen near the entrance of the park and just across from the parking area. The conditions of the Duck River change significantly around Centerville. The river is wider and slower with more gravel bars and standing pools. Catfish are most prominent on this lower section of the Duck River.