The Obey River: Our overlooked tailwater.


hatAt one time years ago the Tennessee State Rainbow and Brown Trout were caught out of the Obey river near Celina Tennessee. Today the Obey still fishes very well although there are better places to catch record-breaking trout. However, there are few places you can catch the sheer numbers of trout that come out of the river every day. The obey river tail water, where it flows out of Dale hollow, is a mere seven in a half miles long. It flows into the Cumberland River around Celina Tennessee. It is one of the rivers that get’s restocked with trout twelve months a year. Its close proximity to the Dale Hollow National fish hatchery is the primary reason for this. It’s primarily stocked with rainbows but the locals tell of some monster browns being caught in a regular basis. The River has good access in comparison to some of our other tail waters. There is great bank access for the first two miles of river and good access at all three boat ramps. Another things is this river is deeper than your average tail water and can be difficult, but not impossible, to wade in places, especially the last three miles or so. Floating the Obey is not only a great way to see one of the most scenic rivers in Tennessee but gives you access to the entire river as well as parts of the Cumberland River as well.

If you’re like myself and live a pretty good drive from this river the campground at the Dale Hollow dam is actually very nice. There is electricity and water at most sites, two large shower houses, and the local police patrol it. The cost is twenty bucks per night and since your camping right on the water it’s well worth the money.


The Obey is much like other tailwaters in that the same Lures and presentations generally work. Rooster Tails in Black/Olive/White all work very well. Jigs under a small float are also deadly, specifically the trout magnet jigs in Olive and Pink. Live bait also works quite well here as the hatchery releases fish weekly into the river. If you’re a fly fisherman this is a great river for zebra midges and prince nymphs. These should be in larger sizes 14-18 as these fish are not as pressured as our more popular tailwaters. If you’re interested in Stripers and white bass the confluence of the Obey and Cumberland rivers is only 7 river miles from the Dam.

Troy Basso is a freelance writer and fishing guide from Chapel Hill Tennessee. He can be reached through his website and blog at .


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: