What To Fish

The Harpeth River is home to over 85 fish species! Every fish species, no matter how big or small, plays an important role in the river ecosystem. It is important to know that some fish are threatened or endangered, meaning they are at risk of extinction. The guide below includes all fish found thus far in the Harpeth River. Of these, 84 are native species and 2 are non-native. When fishing the Harpeth, keep these critters in mind! 

The most targeted fish species in the Harpeth River is the smallmouth bass (M. dolomieu). These fish can be found in rocky or gravelly areas of the river with moving water. Smallmouth are ambush predators and love to sit behind rocks or other cover when hunting. A good way to target them is to work structure such as rocks, logs, or deep runs. Smallmouth eat a variety of food, but crawdad-imitations, spinners, and various finesse tactics work well. 


Other popular species that are also pursued in the Harpeth River are largemouth bass (M. salmoides), rock bass (A.rupestris), bluegill (L. macrochirus), and channel catfish (I. punctatus).


Deciding which lures to bring with you to the river can be frustrating at times and can lead to packing every lure you own! Here is a link to 10 lures that work well for any river or stream fishing.

Before You Get Started

  • Always make sure you have a fishing license! They can be found here.
  • Check the weather before you head out! In the summer, storms can develop quickly and cause hazardous conditions.
  • Bring water, snacks, sunscreen, and bug spray!
  • The USGS keeps current conditions of river levels for all major waterways in the United States, including the Harpeth River!
  • Help keep the Harpeth River healthy. Check out some of the invasive species that can be found in the Harpeth River and keep an eye out for them.

Access Points

Much of the Harpeth River is bordered by private property, but there are ways that you can gain access to fish! The Harpeth River State Park offers nine public access points along the river, all of which you can fish at. These sites feature ramps to launch kayaks and canoes, or you can choose to wade. If you choose to wade, be careful! The Harpeth River has some very deep segments and sudden drop-offs, which can lead to hazardous situations.


Be River Responsible

As always, we want to keep the Harpeth River and all rivers in Tennessee in pristine condition. Whether you are fishing, kayaking, or just enjoying the outdoors, remember to Be River Responsible!
Interested in joining our “Be River Responsible” Program? Our “Be River Responsible” program encourages recreationists and recreation-focused businesses to practice safe and responsible river recreation and mobilizes efforts to clean up trash and litter pollution from Tennessee’s waterways. Since 2017, Harpeth Conservancy and our partners have distributed over 500 biodegradable litter bags and dozens of “Be River Responsible” signs on private property, at local outfitters, and other businesses. Find ways to get involved here!


Wall of Fame

Scott Muller

3lbs Smallmouth Bass, 6/3/2023, caught about 1/4 mile from the put in at the Narrows

Tyson Ferrell

2 lbs, 7/6/2023, caught on the Harpeth near the golf center in Bellevue

Blake Sage

10″ Smallmouth Bass

Marina Metes

27″ Longnose Gar

Murphy Copeland

75lbs Catfish

Carol Provost

2lbs Smallmouth Bass


Largemouth Bass

Blake Sage

Smallmouth Bass

Send us your fish pictures from the Harpeth River and make it on our wall of fame!