Mill Creek hiding in plain sight

Friday, March 17, 2017
An unassuming stretch of water, Mill Creek runs from Nolensville into South Nashville. The small water is a great place to catch smallmouth bass and other native species.
Troy Basso photo

I wish I could say Mill Creek gained its national notoriety from being a “jet setter” destination.

Unfortunately, Mill Creek gained national attention in May 2010 as it was the first Metro Nashville river to come out of its banks during the massive floods of 2010. Mill Creek runs through Nolensville and south Nashville, where it then empties into the Cumberland River.

Many years ago, more than a decade from this writing to be exact, I asked a local fishing shop about fishing this small creek and they told me it was “okay” if you don’t mind wading around old engine blocks. Well, I thought it a little odd to be discouraged by a fishing shop, so I fished it that night... and at least three times a week for many years.

Tube baits and small crank baits that imitate a crawfish are deadly on smallies.
Troy Basso

Starting south of Nolensville, the creek is deeper and slower than most middle Tennessee creeks. The access is not too bad and there are several public access points.

Fishing paradise

The fishing here is great, especially for bluegill and smallmouth bass. Other species include largemouth and a few spotted bass.

The smallmouth are the biggest reason to fish this creek. They don’t get the pressure that the more popular creeks and rivers do in this part of the state. The creek itself looks like just another creek in an urban environment.

In January and February, you can catch a few on swimbaits if the flows are up. Your best bet this time of year is to trout fish for the smallmouth. That means smallish spinner baits and crank baits.

Once March and April arrive the fishing will pick up exponentially, assuming the rains don’t come too often or too heavy. Due to the surrounding terrain, Mill Creek is especially sensitive to rainfall and runoff.

Summer fun

June and July are two of the best months to fish the creek. The waters stay cool and the bass really turn on.

A great starting place, as far as lure selection, is always a tube jig. These give you the ability to have a gentle presentation and they come in all the right colors. Anything that resembles a crayfish is just fine.

During the blistering heat of August and September the little creek still produces, but you have to work harder.

There are plenty of stoneroller minnows and they become the predominant forage during the summer. A white or gray Rapala style crankbait is a great imitation.

Super month

October is probably the best single month for fishing here. A minnow imitation will bring plenty of fish to your hand. The smallmouths have the feedbag on and feed aggressively.

Things slow down a little in November and December but the fishing will remain above average until the water temperatures drop below about 50 degrees.

This creek looks small and very non-intimidating to the unfamiliar onlooker, in places it begs a lure be thrown into a current seam, but this stream is very susceptible to flash flooding and has taken several lives over past years during high water.