The Obey River is a 47.8-mile-long tributary of the Cumberland River in Tennessee, and serves as both a fishing and canoeing destination for local residents and visitors.
It joins the Cumberland River on the western edge of the town of Celina. Through the Cumberland and Ohio rivers, the Obey River is part of the Mississippi River watershed.
The Obey was impounded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to form Dale Hollow Reservoir, site of a fish hatchery run by the federal government. The Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery stocks the Obey River and many other rivers and lakes around the Southeast with rainbow trout.
Canoeing and kayaking
The Obey has become a popular canoeing and kayaking destination. River-goers can enter the water just below Dale Hollow Dam and travel several miles down the Obey to another ramp area at Donaldson Park in Celina.
Below the dam, the stream makes two sharp bends before entering the Cumberland. The only major bridge on the Obey, on State Route 53, is located just below the second of these, Peterman Bend. You can pass underneath the Obey River bridge on your way downstream in the incredibly scenic trip. Wildlife of all types can be seen in and around the Obey.
In years past, the Obey held state records for rainbow trout and brown trout. It’s still a popular fishing spot for many anglers.
What a campground on the Obey River
The Corps of Engineers operates a very popular campground right beside the Obey, located only about four miles from Celina.
The campground has about everything a camper could want. It stays filled to capacity during most of the vacation season. It has dozens of camping spots, bathroom facilities, a fish-cleaning station, a laundry facility, and a walking and bike trail. In addition, it’s located right beside the national fish hatchery. Also, there’s the popular fishing stream that runs between the hatchery and the river.
“People come to the campground to fish,” said Paul Boyce, president of the Friends of Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery Support group. An outlet stream leading directly from the hatchery into the Obey River runs through the campground area. “It’s one of the heaviest-fished streams in the state,” fish hatchery manager Andrew Currie said.
“We stock the Obey every Friday,” Currie said. “This little stream between the hatchery and the river sells more fishing license and trout stamps than any other one like it in Tennessee.”
A very popular kids’ fishing rodeo is held on the stream on Free Fishing Day in Tennessee, always held very early in June.