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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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

Cordell Hull Dam, in operation for 40 years, is the youngest dam on Tennessee's Cumberland River.

Fishing and History at Cordell Hull Dam

I don’t expect there are many who know why the dam across the Cumberland River a few miles north of Carthage was named for Cordell...Read on

Shallow-draft crafts like canoes and kayaks make fishing the Caney Fork River near the dam possible during periods when the river water level is low.

A Picture Perfect Day at the Lower Caney Fork River

I returned to my favorite Middle Tennessee trout stream last week. It’s been years since I canoed the entire lower Caney Fork River – 28...Read on

Just downstream from the Heartland Park launching ramp on the western shore is a bridge that routes bikers and hikers to the mouth of the Stone River, along the Cumberland River and loops back to the trail that runs on the eastern side of the river.

Fishing the Lower Stones River and Greenway Trekking

The Stones River Greenway is just the ticket if you want to enjoy seeing wildflowers and lots of slender great blue herons stalking the shallows...Read on

Radnor Lake and its environs were transformed from railroad yards and cattle pens to an area for quiet walks in nature.

A Walk at Radnor Lake State Natural Area

Early on a Monday morning in May, I climbed out of my car and within seconds was walking on a wood-mulched trail lined with tulip...Read on

This boat launching ramp below the dam required more than year to clear of debris and repair after the devastating flood in May of 2010.

Life’s A Beach at Cheatham Dam

I love fishing below Cumberland River dams and Cheatham is one of my favorites. Unlike lakes with wide expanses to fish, I like the structure...Read on