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.

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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 www.troybassooutdoors.com .

 

Chasing Late Winter/ Early Spring Crappie

 

dsc_0006By the time temperatures outside reach the mid-fifties most anglers are looking to get out on the water. This time of the year the crappie fishing is getting heated up and the fish are very willing to eat, if you can find them.

They are not ready to spawn, but they have vacated their deeper water winter holding areas. So where does that leave the aspiring crappie angler? Well it leaves us catching just as many fish as we will during the spawn.

The key to late winter/early spring crappie fishing is to be versatile and mobile. Move from creek to creek until you locate a school of active fish. Deeper fish are still not as active but the crappie you see schooled up over deep water at about 10-12 feet are going to be thee schools you want to target.

Location

This time of year, the fish are in transition areas. All that means is they are somewhere between their deep-water haunts and the spring spawning flats. The good news is they are never far from the spawning flats.

Something as simple as a creek channel with a little deeper water will hold fish. Pay close attention to the inside of those creek channel turns all year but, especially in the springtime.

Lures

Although the old standard minnow and bobber will always catch fish, this time of year a moving presentation is more productive.

Curly tailed grubs, small soft plastic shad imitations and paddle tail grubs are going to catch your dinner this time of year. Productive colors are going to be gray, pearl, chartreuse, and black/Pink. My personal go to soft plastic is the Kalins Triple Threat Grub, simply put it’s the most durable grub I have ever found.

Presentation

Trolling is the most effective method, as you can cover more water and locate feeding fishing in an efficient manner. Spider rigging also works well, but in this time of transition, I want to be able to move around until I find aggressive fish.

The best speeds for trolling this time of year have been around .8 MPH. This will allow your jigs to get down to where the fish will be holding. My bread and butter jig head is an 1/8 ounce, but I never leave the house without some 1/16th ounce heads in case the fish are suspended over deep the channel; rather than near the bottom.

Water Temperature

Even though the weatherman says it’s going to be 60+ all week you must pay attention to the water temperature. Crappie will go on the move when the lakes start getting to 50 degrees and higher.

Once we get a week or more of warm water temperatures the fish go into the pre-spawn feeding mode. When mother nature hits us with a cold front and the lakes drop below fifty, the normally active fish will move back out to deeper water.

Once the water hits 60 look for the white crappie to move in shallow and spawn. Black Crappie will follow at around 67 degrees.

Percy Priest Report 2/19/17

 

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Wow was Sunday a beautiful day on the lake. The fish were more than cooperative as well. Seemed like every boat I saw was setting in shallow water drowning minnows and catching the occasional small fish. Even though it felt like spring, its not spring yet folks. The fish were staged in 7-10 feet of water in preparation for the spawn. We found them related to ledges off the major spawning flats and they were hungry.

Water temp was holding at 50 and the water was slightly stained. It was a “John Deere Green” colored jig that got it done.

This time of year you have to use your electronics to find the fish then adjust your presentation to catch them.

Boat show and fishing reports

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Well once again the 2017 Nashville Boat and Fishing show is a memory. Seems like I have been going to that show for decades, wait I have been going to that show for decades. I, as many of you, have seen the show go from good to bad several times over the years. This year the show looks to be moving back to the good.

I was happy to see several tackle manufactures and guides from Tennessee and Kentucky were in attendance. The best thing was to see Hog Farmer bait company had made it. This guy makes the best A-Rigs on the market bar none.  Also present was Hugh McNaughten and the Southern Woods and Waters crew from Channel 5 in Nashville. They are a great bunch of folks who love to share the outdoors with anyone who will listen.

It appeared all the boat dealers in the area were present and accounted for but, the one that went the extra mile was C&O Marine. I would hate to know how many people it took to get that many boats moved into the building! They were there making deals and selling boats all three days.

The amount on non-fishing booths was down from normal. We counted 12 booths in the building that had nothing to do with the outdoors but, they do have to sell that floor space to someone. Overall the show appeared to be a good one. Even the vendors were saying they were having a great show. Let’s all hope we can see this keep getting better like in the good old days.

Percy Priest lake has been a hot ticket this past week. My bunch has been catching limits of crappies pretty much every trip out. The fish are in a pre-spawn pattern and holding tight in 10-12 feet of water. Trolling jigs has proved to be the most efficient method for this early season bite. The bass are being found shallow off rocky main lake points and windy days have been the best. Square billed crankbaits in citrus shad and 4 inch swimbaits have been the common theme for the past week.

Normandy lake has been slower but still producing those big crappies that its famous for. Here finding them is the challenge. We fished it Sunday and found good numbers of keeper fish way up in the creeks. Carol Creek is where we found them and they were shallow. 4-6 feet of water holding tight to standing timber. Spider rigs with Minnows were the only thing we could get them to bite that day. Bass have been slow but there are a few coming off the secondary lake points.

The Elk and Duck river tail waters are both putting out good numbers of trout still. Small jigs, flies, and micro crankbaits are all working equally well.

Old Hickory is also fishing well. We went to see if the Tilapia bit was still going on, well it’s not. Seems the mild weather has let the lake warm up enough they are not stacked on the steam plant like when it was cold. However, the crappie and bass bite is picking up and will get better with the warmer forecast for next week.

Troy Basso is a freelance writer and fishing guide from Chapel Hill, Tennessee. HE can be reached at 931-639-7468 or through www.troybassooutdoors.com .

Percy Priest Report 2/12/17

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The bite on priest has gotten a little slower but the fish are still biting if your willing to spend a little time locating schools that will bite. Yesterday they were in 8 foot of water or less and even then the fish made you work hard for them. The fish out in deeper water were simply suspended and not willing to eat a bait. The Viverett creek area was the best location that could be found yesterday.