In the country, creeks are sometimes called “cricks.”
What’s the difference in a stream and a creek? If you can jump across it, it’s considered a creek.
The fish that inhabit creeks generally aren’t big. They consist primarily of various bream species, pumpkinseeds, chubs and an occasional small bass.
If you’re looking to stock up for a fish fry, creek fishing is not the way to go. But if you just want to spend a relaxing morning wading in cool, knee-deep water, wildlife-watching and catching an occasional fish, creeks are perfect.
During the summer most lakes are churned to a froth by water skiers and recreational boaters, and bigger streams such as the Caney Fork are adrift with boisterous rafters and canoeists. If you’re not careful you’ll hook a kayaker on a back-cast.
But you’ll have most creeks to yourself. They’re tranquil and peaceful. That’s part of their charm.
Middle Tennessee is laced with creeks. One, Brown’s Creek, runs through my backyard on its winding way to the Cumberland River. Neighborhood kids enjoy wading in it, catching creek minnows, salamanders and crawdads.
Creeks in state parks and other public areas are of course open to the public, although some parks require a permit for fishing.
To wade a creek that runs through private property requires permission of the property owner. (If a stream is “navigable,” permission is not required to float on the surface in a boat or other craft, but the stream-bed and the banks are considered private property.)
Like anything else, creek fishing can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it, and how much time and effort you’re willing to invest. In most areas, it’s not difficult to find an accessible creek and get permission to wade it. All most landowners ask is that you don’t litter.
Bait is pretty basic. A pinch of worm will catch every species of creek fish. A small hook below a lead spilt shot is all the tackle necessary. In a deep pool, a small bobber will keep the bait dangling off the bottom and in the strike zone. Small spinners and flies also work well.
On bigger streams, when fishing for bigger fish, assorted live bait and artificial lures are effective. I once caught a 4-pound bass on Otter Creek on the Catoosa WMA, casting a Rapala in foot-deep ripples.
But for genuine creek fishing, a pinch of worm is all you need.
If you intend to keep some fish, a stinger tied to your belt and trailing in the water keeps them lively and fresh.
During hot, dry summer months snakes congregate around creeks and it’s wise to watch where you step, especially along the banks. Most species are harmless, but not all.
Another concern is stinging insects like wasps and hornets which sometimes build nests on overhanging braches. Also, learn to identify – and avoid – poison ivy and poison oak, which thrives along creek banks and access trails.
Creek fishing is more about the fishing than the fish. That’s refreshing, in more ways