The history of Dale Hollow Lake is a rich one. In days gone by, most people equated the lake and dam to flood control and hydroelectric power.
That all changed with the World Record Smallmouth Bass catch by David L. Hayes. In addition to world-class fishing, Dale Hollow is also known for its unsurpassed beauty, house-boating, and water sports of all kinds.
Unsurpassed water purity and clarity are also a big part of the history of Dale Hollow Lake. The lake is always ranked among the best house-boating lakes on the continent. In addition, the lake attracts about three million visitors annually. Dale Hollow and the surrounding area provide recreational opportunities in many areas. These include fishing, hunting, camping, boating, canoeing and kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, scuba diving and other activities.
*Dale Hollow Lake belongs to you. Treat your lake and surrounding area with respect by keeping it clean and attractive. Enjoy yourself, have a safe visit and come again.
The Dale Hollow Lake Shoreline Management Plan provides policies for the long-range management and protection of natural resources. These public lands are managed to allow the shoreline and forested hillsides to remain in their natural state. Consequently, there are no provisions for private exclusive use. We urge you to enjoy these unique resources, while protecting them for generations to come. You’ll find Dale Hollow to be very rustic and pristine compared to other lakes, due to a conscious effort by the Corps of Engineers. So, you’ll see Mother Nature in all her glory.
“Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”
How it started
Dale Hollow Dam is “one of the multipurpose projects that make up the Corps of Engineers’ system for development of the water resources of the Cumberland River Basin. This system is an important part of a larger plan of development for the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers,” the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website says.
Initially, the dam was built for both flood control and the generation of hydroelectric power. “Dale Hollow Dam and Lake function to control the floodwaters of the Obey River and contribute to the reduction of flood levels at municipal, industrial and agricultural areas along the Cumberland, lower Ohio and Mississippi Rivers,” the Corps website says.
Before construction of Dale Hollow Dam, and Lake Cumberland Dam, which is upstream on the Cumberland River, much of the area regularly experienced flooding issues. Celina is located at the junction of the Cumberland and Obey rivers, so the town had serious flooding problems before those dams were built.
What has been known as the “Old Town” area of Celina for decades is where much of the “town” was once located. It was situated on the banks of the Cumberland and Obey. Due to flooding issues, town was eventually moved to higher ground. As a result of flood control. those problems are now a distant memory.
Flood control, electricity
Dale Hollow Dam and Lake was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938, and the River and Harbor Act of 1946. The flood control part of the project was completed in 1943, while power-generating units were added in 1948, 1949 and again in 1953. The Corps says power produced at Dale Hollow Dam will supply the needs of an average city of 45,000 people.
The dam is located roughly three miles east of Celina, while the junction of the Obey and Cumberland rivers is a few miles downstream. In recent years, the Obey has proven to be a popular canoeing and kayaking stream, while both sports are also enjoyed on the lake.
A great smallmouth lake
A few years after the lake was impounded, private marinas started to spring up along the shorelines. It wasn’t long after this that Dale Hollow earned its reputation as the Smallmouth Bass Capital of the World. In July of 1955, David Lee Hayes dragged the world-record smallmouth from the lake. This was the first of many top-tier fish taken through the years. Hayes’ record still stands. Ten of the top 25 smallmouth bass ever caught have been taken from Dale Hollow’s waters, while other record fish have come from the lake and from nearby bodies of water. Dale Hollow and Celina have been popular fishing destinations for 60 years now.
Through the years, Dale Hollow has developed quite a reputation for house-boating. Pickaslip.com rated Dale Hollow as the top house-boating destination on the continent. It was ranked ahead of such vacationing heavyweights as Lake Powell in Utah and Lake Mead near Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. The six marinas located in Clay County can help you with any house-boating or other boating needs, so contact them.
Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery
The excellent water quality of Dale Hollow Lake is important to the operation of the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery, which is located just below Dale Hollow Dam. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operates the hatchery on 40 acres of land leased from the Corps of Engineers.
Built in 1965, and expanded in 1994, the Dale Hollow Hatchery is the largest Federal trout hatchery East of the Mississippi. It produces 1.5 million trout annually, an average production of around 300,000 pounds. The fish are distributed in Tennessee, and also in Alabama and Georgia. The hatchery is open to visitors every day from 7 AM to 4 PM, and is a popular tourist venue.
Dale Hollow is the home of the one the largest wintering Bald Eagle populations in the area. Eagle Watch activities are held on the third and fourth Saturday of each January by the Corps of Engineers. Eagle enthusiasts are transported by open barge in search of bald eagles. The eagle watch tours are free, but advance reservations are required. The spots go quickly, so please call the Corps well in advance. The magnificent birds are most often seen in the winter, and are truly a sight to behold.
SCUBA DIVING and BOATING
Because of the clarity of water, scuba diving is a popular pastime at Dale Hollow. Divers must display a “Diver Down” flag in the area where they are diving. Boaters should be alert to the “Diver Down” flag and keep a safe distance away. For more information on scuba diving and boating regulations, contact the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, (1-800-262-6704).
THE FRIENDS OF DALE HOLLOW LAKE, INC.
The Friends of Dale Hollow Lake, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection and conservation of Dale Hollow and support of the Corps of Engineers. For membership information, call 931-243-3136.