Duck River – A Canoeing and Fishing Odyssey
We are so lucky here in Tennessee – not only do we have lush mountains, lakes and rivers but there are loads of ways to enjoy and explore them thanks to our state and national forests, state and national parks, national recreation areas and a particularly special program: the Division of Natural Areas.
Part of the Department of Environment and Conservation, the Division of Natural Areas is committed to safeguarding and in some cases re-establishing plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the natural biological diversity of Tennessee in 82 natural areas and sections of 13 scenic rivers across the state.
Guided hikes and tours of these ecologically significant areas are offered throughout the year by the biologists, botanists, zoologists and ecologists in the Division of Natural Areas and regional conservation groups.
Sometimes I think I’d like to find a way to simply download the knowledge and experience all those folks possess. Instead I’ve settled on picking their brains during guided trips whenever I can.
And it just so happens the Natural Areas staff is leading a guided canoe trip July 19 down a scenic portion of the Duck River, considered one of the most biologically diverse in North American freshwater animal life, that is a perfect half-day paddle for beginners. This 5.6-mile section in Maury County between Leftwich Bridge and Howard Bridge ramp is flat and easy with gentle current and no rapids. More experienced paddlers will enjoy the trip in their own canoes or kayaks but canoe rentals at a special discount will be available with everything you need for a relaxing day on the water. Take your camera and count on shooting wildlife and pristine scenery.
Besides being an excellent river for paddling, the Duck River is also ideal for fishing, particularly smallmouth bass. But there are sections upstream near Old Stone Fort State Park known for bream and rock bass; trout and walleye below Normandy Lake Dam; and catfish, bream, rock bass and black bass near Henry Horton State Park. One of my favorite fishing holes in Columbia is at Old Iron Bridge Road where I know I can catch plenty of spotted bass. Here’s where I swap our canoe for my 16-foot john boat, an efficient craft for navigating the sometimes shallow gravel bars.
But I’ve fished various portions of the river which flows nearly 270 miles from its source on the Cumberland Plateau’s western edge to join the Buffalo River before emptying into the Tennessee River.
Whether you do the Duck River by wading, fishing from the bank, canoeing or running a motor boat, this river is a rich source of angling opportunities.
Researchers have documented more than 150 fish species, 55 freshwater mussel species and 22 aquatic snail species in this ancient river.
Discover what’s living in and along the Duck River for yourself during the Natural Area’s float trip. RSVP by July 17 with Forrest Evans at 615-532-0431 or Forrest.Evans@tn.gov.