Vernon Summerlin

Hi there! I’m Vernon Summerlin. Like many, I came to Nashville to break into the music industry. After years of striving, I put songwriting aside when I sold the first two fishing articles I wrote. I was being published more than the average songwriter, and I got to fish all I wanted. Talk about being in heaven—it was like being paid to eat candy! Twenty-five years later, I’ve written/co-written 11 books, had a weekly outdoor column for Middle Tennessee newspapers, put my pen to countless fishing articles, and have been a host for three radio programs and two TV shows. I’m immersed in our state’s outdoor life and will do my best to get you outside to experience Middle Tennessee’s slice of paradise. Describe your perfect Tennessee day. Nothing floats my boat better than catching fish, or at least trying. Give me a partly cloudy day with the temperature in the mid-60s by 11 a.m. and a breeze causing a light ripple on the surface. In my “Old Man Boat” with my wife, Cathy, and Jake, the golden retriever, trolling the Cumberland River for smallmouth, walleye, striper. Where’s the first place you’d take a friend visiting Tennessee? We often take our friends for a tour of the northern end of the Natchez Trace Parkway. Each season suggests the activity we’ll include—walking the old trails, wading in a creek, picking berries, photographing waterfalls or capturing deer or turkeys on camera. If you could meet one historical Tennessean, who would it be and why? (This can be someone still living.) I would love to visit with Bill Dance and fish with him. He blazed the trail for so many anglers, inspiring some anglers to become fishing pros, some to write, some to develop outdoor TV shows. He’s always gracious, with something substantial to offer.

Stories By Vernon

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Below Tims Ford Dam the Elk is shallow with a rock-gravel bottom about 50 feet wide with gravel bars and intermittent deep pools.

Enjoy the Elk River at Tims Ford Dam

If you like the outdoors and water, I strongly suggest you wet a hook, your paddle or your tootsies in the Elk River. Last Sunday,...Read on

The pool at the base of Great Falls is a popular swimming hole, even during low water levels

Rock on at Rock Island State Park

Fishing, hiking, swimming, canoeing/kayaking, camping and sight-seeing rank high at Rock Island State Park on the Cumberland Plateau. The Caney Fork Gorge and its waterfalls...Read on

This 25-foot plunge waterfall is formed by the headwaters of Flat Fork Creek on the southeast slope of Bird Mountain

A Walk in the Park at Frozen Head

Thunder rumbled and a fine mist settled over the cove at the Visitors Center at Frozen Head State Park and Natural Area on the beautiful...Read on

Waterfalls are formed as the Duck and Little Duck Rivers drop 100 feet as they descend from the Highland Rim Plateau to the level of the Nashville Basin on the way through the park.

Old Stone Fort’s Enigma

On a natural plateau where the Duck and Little Duck Rivers converge, travel back through time as you explore an ancient enigma known as Old...Read on

The showy Tennessee purple coneflower grows in red cedar glades where limestone bedrock is exposed or covered by a very thin layer of soil.

A Happy Ending for Cedars of Lebanon State Park

About 15 miles east of Nashville and five miles south of Lebanon there is a very special ecosystem. The combined 9,000 acres of Cedars of...Read on

Small streams in eastern and middle Tennessee flow over rocky substrates, often eroding softer rock to create waterfalls of all sizes.

Wading a Creek and Finding a Slice of Childhood

Let me get close to a creek and I lose about 50 years (or more) and feel like an inquisitive kid once again. I want...Read on


Summer Swimming and More at Cummins Falls State Park

On a hot summer day, what better way to spend an afternoon than splashing around in a nice cool swimming hole? Better yet, not just...Read on