Winding 284 miles through the state of Tennessee, the Duck River is one of the state’s most scenic waterways. It is the longest river located entirely in our state with over 70 miles flowing through beautiful Hickman County. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Duck River is one of three hot spots for fish and mussel diversity in the entire world. It is generally considered the richest river in varieties of freshwater animals on the North America continent and the sole water source for 250,000 people in Middle Tennessee. It enters the city of Manchester and meets its confluence with a major tributary, the Little Duck River, at Old Stone Fort State Park, named after an ancient Native American structure between the two rivers believed to be nearly 2,000 years old.
The Duck River is North America’s richest river in variety of freshwater animal species, containing more species of fish than are found in all the rivers in Europe combined and more fish varieties per mile than any other river in North America. The Duck supports a diversity of freshwater animals in its waters, including 151 species of fish, 60 freshwater mussel species and 22 species of aquatic snails. The river harbors a number of large mammals, reptiles, birds, otters, beavers, mink, hawks, osprey and herons.
Like many rivers that are becoming more developed, the Duck faces a variety of threats, with the water quality being the greatest. Increases in storm-water runoff, sewage treatment outflows, and chemical and nutrient loading from farmland have a significant negative impact on freshwater creatures.
There are two locations in Hickman County with public access to the waterway. The ramp at the Highway 100 bridge (owned by the Town of Centerville) at RiverPark and the other at the Highway 50 bridge (owned by TWRA) near Only.
The river is great for paddling and fishing especially for bass with two local groups meeting monthly during the warm weather for tournaments. One is the Hickman County Bass Club, which displays a plaque of their Angler of the Year at Fish Camp Restaurant. The other is just a group of fishermen that meet February through October at RiverPark and return there at a certain time for weigh in. Their recorded largest small mouth bass is 5lb, 12oz and the largest large mouth is 7lb, 8oz. Numerous privately owned access locations are on the river, some with beautiful campsites. Large catfish have been and continue to be caught in the river also.
It’s natural beauty is abundant with large bluffs, beautiful wildflowers, driftwood and many water creatures. The great American bald eagle, our national bird, is returning to the area and many sightings of these majestic creatures have occurred on the Duck River. So if fishing is not your thing, sightseeing with a camera is a great adventure!
Click here to view a Tennessee’s Wildside segment about the Duck River.