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Obey River Tailwater Trip

July 10 - July 12

Location: Obey River Tailwater (Celina, TN)
Dates: July 10th – 12th (Wed – Fri)

Coordinator: Joe Gahlinger (joegahl@twc.com, 502-472-3975)

Level 2 Trip: This is rated a Level 2 Trip (see Trip Suitability for details.) Boat operators should have experience navigating shallow water rivers and dealing with rising water from dam releases. Kayakers, canoeists, etc., should have experience fishing from a kayak in moving water. PFD’s are required for all.

Number of Spots: Unlimited

The Plan:  We’ll arrive Wednesday afternoon/evening and fish the Obey on Thursday and Friday.  Note:  There is a Cumberland Tailwaters trip scheduled for 12 thru 14 July at Helm’s Landing. If you desire, you can fish the Obey on Thursday and Friday then travel to the Riverside Retreat at Helm’s Landing Friday afternoon/evening to fish the Cumberland on Saturday and Sunday.  Note: These are separate trips and you must sign up for each of them separately.

Description of the Waters: The Obey River Tailwater is a 7 mile stretch of the Obey River that runs between the Dale Hollow Lake Dam and the Cumberland River. The river is stocked with rainbow and brown trout year-round. Club members have caught both species in good numbers and sizes (it is not uncommon to hook up on 18+ inch fish.) The river is subject to rapidly changing conditions based on the dam release schedule. It is a narrow river with high banks, thus when dam release begins the river rises rapidly by as much as 12 to 15 feet. The upper half of the river is shallow during non-release periods but can be navigated carefully by shallow draft motorboats. The lower half is deeper and easily navigated at low water.  Google Map Link

Accessibility: Wading is limited and mostly only accessible via watercraft. So, this will be a float trip (shallow draft motorboats, kayaks, canoes, etc.)  There are three concrete boat ramps along the river with ample parking available. We typically launch and recover motorboats at the Donaldson Park ramp, which is at the lower end of the river. We motor up 2.5 to 5 miles depending on water conditions and fish our way back down to the ramp. For those with kayaks, canoes, etc., we’ll organize shuttles for launch and take out. If you do not have a watercraft but would like to come on this trip, contact Joe Gahlinger for help in getting a seat – but no guarantees. DO NOT SIGN UP until you have made boating arrangements.

Meals: All meals are personal responsibility.  Depending on your lodging arrangements there may be informally organized dinners at a local restaurant. See Lodging options below for in-room cooking amenities.

Lodging:  There are a few lodging options:

  1. Riverfront Lodge, Burkesville, KY – We have four rooms reserved for Wed and Thur nights (Jul 10 & 11) for $70/night/room (taxes and fees included).  To claim one of these rooms call 270-864-3300 and ask for rooms reserved under Joe Gahlinger. Rooms are two queen beds, free Wi-Fi, microwave, mini fridge and coffee maker. About 25 minutes from Donaldson Ramp on the Obey. Ample parking and several charging stations in rear for trolling motor battery charging.
  2. Valley View Motel, Celina, TN – This is a no-frills motel we’ve used in the past. It’s biggest advantage is that it is five minutes from the Donaldson Ramp. No microwave, fridge or coffee maker and no cooking in rooms. These are small, basic rooms so temper your expectations. They are clean and serviceable for $65/night (cash), $68/night (credit card) per room. Boat trailer parking is tight but manageable. You will have to use extension cords to charge trolling motor batteries. Call 931-243-2641 to make reservations.
  3. Campsites are available at the Dale Hollow Damsite Campgrounds immediately adjacent to the boat ramp just below the dam. You can get Campground information and make reservations at https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/232564

Fishing License and permits: You will need a Tennessee All Species fishing license. A 3-day non-resident costs $40.50 and an annual non-resident costs $99.00. You can get more information and buy licenses here.

Sign Up here.


July 10
July 12