WELCOME to DALE HOLLOW LAKE
FISHING the OBEY RIVER
TROUT TROUT TROUT.
There are hogs in that river!
Dam Release Schedule
The Obey River
(from Management Plan for the Obey River Trout Fishery 2008-2014)
The Dale Hollow Tailwater or Obey River is located in Clay County near Celina, Tennessee. Dale Hollow Dam was constructed in 1945 for flood control and power generation. Dale Hollow drains an area of 935 sq. miles and encompasses 27,700 surface acres at normal, summer pool. Dale Hollow Dam is presently operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The dam contains three turbines and each turbine operation usually provides 1,800 cubic feet per second (cfs) with a maximum of 2,000 cfs each. At times of no generation, a continuous, minimum flow of 25 cfs is provided.
Coldwater releases from this hydropower dam have eliminated the native fish populations. In order to mitigate for the loss of this resource, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) cooperate to stock trout in the Dale Hollow Tailwater.
The tailwater is relatively narrow and well confined within wooded bottoms and steep, wooded banks, with little or no shoal/riffle areas. During hydropower generation, it is not easily fished by wading. Ninety percent of the fishing is done from the bank, 8% wade, and 1% float (Williams and Bettoli 2003). Most of the fishing pressure on the Obey River is concentrated in the upper 3 km of the tailwater (Bettoli 1996).
The trout section of the Obey River runs from the Dale Hollow Dam, about 12km (7.5 river miles), to its confluence with the Cumberland River. Boat ramps, public restrooms, and extensive picnicking facilities provide ample attraction to this tailwater. Several fishing piers provide convenient access for all anglers, especially senior citizens, anglers with children, and those with physical limitations.
This tailwater offers other activities than fishing. A USACE campground is situated on the banks of the river, immediately downstream of the dam. Campers have easy access to the river provided by several fishing piers and walkways. The Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery is adjacent to the river and it also attracts tourist to the tailwater, providing daily tours of the facility. There is also a private campground located on the lower reaches of the tailwater, just upstream of Highway 53.
Below the hatchery there is a small creek (Hatchery Creek) that is also stocked with trout. A paved walking path along the creek provides easy access. Water levels usually rise in this creek during generation periods. During weekends, 28% of the Obey River anglers used Hatchery Creek and 54% anglers utilized this creek during the week when dam discharges were typically higher (Bettoli 2002).
Water temperatures yearly range from 42 F (5.5 C) in the winter months to 56 F (13.2 C) in the summer (Young 1996).
The Obey River Angler
A study by Hutt and Bettoli (2003) assessed the motivations and attitudes of anglers at Tennessee tailwaters. Hutt and Bettoli (2003) reported that the Obey angler is the least specialized of all tailwater anglers, with respect to fishing gear. Compared to other Tennessee tailwaters, Obey anglers are the most likely to harvest a trout. Sixty-seven percent of the anglers harvested trout. Harvesting trout for food was a strong motivation among anglers. The study indicated that Obey anglers were significantly more likely to oppose regulations that prohibit the use of bait than other tailwater anglers.
Williams and Bettoli (2003) found that Obey anglers were three times more likely to be multipurpose oriented compared to other trout tailwaters. Fishing trips were usually associated with camping and reservoir activities. Walkways, ramps, and fishing piers are located along the uppermost part of this tailwater and they tend to concentrate anglers. Anglers are most likely to be using bait (73% of the anglers surveyed) and still fishing with bait is the most common technique used by Obey anglers (Bettoli 1996). Only 7% are fly fishermen and 10% are using artificial lures. The Obey angler will likely be from surrounding counties, from 60 miles or less distance. The Obey River is among the most economically important trout tailwater in this state, valued at $1.7 million (Williams and Bettoli 2003).
Creel surveys conducted in 1995 and 2001 provide information on angler use and success (Bettoli 1996, 2002).
Figure 1: Obey River Rainbow Trout Catch rates 99-06
Figure 2. Obey River Rainbow Trout Stocking Rates
Figure 3. Obey River Brown Trout Catch Rates 99-06
Figure 4. Obey River Brown Trout Stocking Rates
Figure 5. Average Relative Weights of Trout in the Obey River
Figure 6. Distribution of Length of Rainbow Trout in the Obey River
Figure 7. Distribution of Length of Brown Trout in the Obey River
Rainbows, Brown Trout, and recently Brook Trout, hare stocked by the Corps of Engineers into the Obey River on a regular basis.