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 along one of Middle Tennessee’s scenic rivers while you burn some calories on foot, in a canoe or on a bike – and relax at the same time.
There are several access points for pedestrians and bicyclists from the western side of the J. Percy Priest Lake Dam along the 10-foot wide multi-use paved trail network as it extends nine miles along the Stones River. Raised walkways and pedestrian bridges link segments as it makes its way to meet the Cumberland River east of downtown Nashville.
The initial three-mile trek from the dam ends at Lebanon Road. About half way to Lebanon Road a one-mile spur to the left leads to a trailhead at the Donelson/Hermitage YMCA. Continuing downstream, another trailhead joins the greenway at the Kohl’s/Target shopping center in Hermitage.
But my trip starts downstream at the trailhead at Heartland Park off McGavock Pike on the west bank of the Stones River less than a mile from where it joins the Cumberland.
On a warm, partly cloudy afternoon, I dug some grubs and worms out of my compost pile, loaded gear into my johnboat and headed to the newest Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency launching ramp at Heartland Park.
A gravel parking lot leads to the trailhead but I was using the short concrete ramp to launch my Old Man Boat. The river was down about four feet from my previous fishing trip in late winter when the white bass were running. If you like catching trout, TWRA stocks the lower Stones with rainbows and browns each winter.
While the low water level prevented me from going more than a couple of miles up the Stones, I still caught fish – lots of bream and a few tiny catfish. Some of the bream were hand-sized with several shellcrackers that were even larger. The active bream seemed to be in shallow water. They were either not present or inactive in deeper water toward the mouth.
The water level was falling slowly as the afternoon progressed and I drifted back downstream on gentle breezes. I spotted schools of tantalizing one-to-two-pound bass lazily holding near the surface. Unfortunately none showed any interest in dining on anything I had to offer. But I filed away the location for a return trip when we’ve had some rain and there is more flow.
Great blue herons and kingfishers were in abundance and seemed hardly bothered by passing joggers, cyclists or the jumbo jets taking off from Nashville International Airport about five miles south as the crow flies.
I saw several anglers fishing from the banks while carefully avoiding omnipresent patches of poison ivy. Moms with babies in strollers, lucky dogs on leashes, birdwatchers, couples out for some fresh air and cyclists warning others sharing the greenway that they were “passing on the left” all seemed to be enjoying the day – and the Stones River Greenway.
If you’re looking for a fishing hole, email me.