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Obey River Tailwaters Trip

June 7, 2023 - June 9, 2023

Coordinator: Joe Gahlinger (joe@derbycityflyfishers.com, 502-472-3975)

Sign Up cutoff is midnight June 4th so we can cancel unneeded rooms if necessary.

The Plan:  We have room reservations Wednesday and Thursday nights at the Valley View Motel in Celina, TN. We’ll arrive Wednesday afternoon/evening and fish the Obey on Thursday and Friday.  Note:  There is a Cumberland Tailwaters trip scheduled for 9 thru 11 June 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 about 2.5 miles to an island 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.

Level: 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.

Meals: The Valley View Motel has no microwaves or refrigerators and cooking in the rooms is not allowed. Thus, all meals are on your own. There are a couple restaurants within walking distance of the motel and several others just a short drive away. We can do group dinners depending on participants desires.

You can get breakfast sandwiches at a nearby gas station on the way to the ramp if you want to get an early start.  Otherwise, there is a decent breakfast diner on the way to the ramp for a more leisurely breakfast.  Plan to pack a lunch to eat on the water.

Lodging: We have reserved four rooms at the Valley View Motel in Celina for Wednesday and Thursday nights. These are small, basic rooms so temper your expectations. They are clean and serviceable and at $65/night (cash), $68/night (credit card) per room are a reasonable value. We plan on shared rooms so the cost is half that per night per person. No deposit is required, you pay at check in. Boat trailer parking is tight but manageable and we can run extension cords to charge trolling motor batteries. As noted under meals, no cooking is allowed in the rooms and there’s no refrigeration. 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.

Equipment:  3 to 8 weight fly rods. Flies include #8 to #20 nymphs, including pheasant tails, hare’s ears, prince, copper john’s, midges, and most other trout nymphs. Black, white and olive wooly buggers are good streamers. If all else fails, bring the Club standby, catalpa worm patterns (AKA mop flies) or some Trout Magnets. DCFF members have had good results with both.

Tennessee Fishing Guide: You can get more information on Tennessee fishing regulations, locations, trout fishing requirements, etc., at  https://www.tn.gov/twra/fishing.html

Sign Up: You must be a current DCFF member to sign up for this trip. Click here to sign up.


June 7, 2023
June 9, 2023
Event Category:


Derby City Fly Fishers


Valley View Motel
815 E Lake Ave
Celina, Tennessee 38551
+ Google Map
(931) 243-2641