Below Tims Ford Dam the Elk is shallow with a rock-gravel bottom about 50 feet wide with gravel bars and intermittent deep pools.

Enjoy the Elk River at Tims Ford Dam

If you like the outdoors and water, I strongly suggest you wet a hook, your paddle or your tootsies in the Elk River. Last Sunday, wow! Clouds and cooler weather made a trout fishing trip below Tims Ford Dam a tremendous pleasure. Along with landing four rainbows and one brown for supper, it was blissful at this pretty spot.

It took a little more than two hours to drive from our home near Leipers Fork to the dam on the Elk River about 10 miles west of Winchester. We were surprised when we saw how few anglers were plying the waters for trout. In fact, there were more canoes and kayaks than anglers.

The Elk River is Class I all the way, that means smooth water and a safe passage for young paddlers.

There is paved parking under Hwy. 50 bridge and a short concrete path wide enough for vehicles leads to the Elk’s rocky beach where you can launch your canoe, kayak or john boat, but there is no ramp. High rock banks near the dam give way to fishable banks and gravel bars near the bridge. Bank anglers have excellent access. During non-generation periods, many anglers wade in the river.

The dam issues enough cold water from the bottom of Tims Ford Lake to keep trout happy with their habitat and good fishing year-round.

Cathy and I launched her canoe, Wave Dancer, after talking with anglers about how the fish were biting (most were using nightcrawlers successfully).

Satisfied that our chances of catching supper were pretty good, we paddled upstream. There was a fairly strong current under the bridge where the river is constricted. When we got to an area where the water was calm, we baited our number 12 salmon egg hooks with Power Eggs (a scent impregnated, biodegradable, plastic-like egg) and waited.

The blogger and his wife Cathy found shade near the bank and that’s where they caught trout.

The Elk River runs about 220 miles from its headwaters to its mouth with 180 miles of the stream in Tennessee. It enters Alabama due south of Pulaski. Tims Ford Dam is at river-mile 133, leaving close to 100 miles of river between the dam and Alabama. The Elk is shallow with a rock-gravel bottom about 50 feet wide with gravel bars and intermittent deep pools. There are 20 bridges with varying ease of access along this 100-mile section.

It’s about 40 miles downstream to Fayetteville from the dam and the Elk broadens to about 65 feet but is still a peaceful stream with easy Class I canoeing. By the time it passes Elkton, 40 river miles downstream, the Elk is a few feet wider but remains gentle. The entire route is scenic with beautiful changes from high steep, rocky bluffs to flat, tilled lowlands, and tree lined banks. It is about 20 miles from Elkton to Alabama.

Canoeing or kayaking allows paddlers a quiet passage through scenic woodland and many opportunities to view wildlife including water birds, song birds, muskrats, turtles, turkeys, deer and other critters. Fishing isn’t limited to rainbow and brown trout, which are mostly found in the 11 miles below the dam but have been caught as far downstream as Fayetteville. The Elk is also known for its sporting smallmouth bass. Bream, catfish and walleye live in these waters too but the river gets little fishing pressure.

The kayak has become very popular with paddlers. They offer more stability and maneuverability.

Two canoe liveries are near the community of Kelso: Elk River Canoe Rental ( offers 11 trips varying from 2.5 miles to 44 miles that take about an hour up to four days. They offer river-side camping. Kelso Canoe Rental ( offers four drop-off sites and primitive camp sites at their headquarters. Click here to learn about the state park and its amenities.

The rocky beach below the Hwy. 50 bridge is a good place to fish from the bank and wade after trout.

Below Tims Ford Dam the Elk is shallow with a rock-gravel bottom about 50 feet wide with gravel bars and intermittent deep pools.

Hi there! I’m Vernon Summerlin. Like many, I came to Nashville to break into the music industry. After years of striving, I...Read on



    Mark Finney

    Is it possible to catch white bass on the Elk R. in late winter and/or early spring ? I am interested in the portion near the hwy 50 bridge, and would be wading or bank fishing. When I lived in Franklin Co. years ago, I caught them on the reservoir in early march, but I no longer own a boat. Thanx————- M. Finney


    Vernon Summerlin

    I’ve not tried fishing for stripe in the Elk but I’m confident they move to the headwaters in late winter and to spawn, usually in March. I fish the Stones River below Priest Dam in March and I fully expect the Elk River stripe to behave the same.
    Happy Hooking!


    Jared Chandler

    I will be coming to camp at Tim’s Ford State Park the weekend of June 27th-30th 2014, I am trout fisher by nature and that’s what drew me to the park. I am just looking for the best area to fish for rainbow, Brooke or brown trout, I have never been to the park and need a push in the right direction, I have used live bait and artificial bait, but never fished southern waters for trout. Also I am a non resident, what does Tennessee offer for weekend fishing license. Thanks for all the help.

    Jared Chandler
    Excited Angler


    taz gerstman

    I am looking for some good places to wade and fish. My wife enjoys fishing and I thought this might be a fun trip but I am not really aware of good places to wade and fish. I enjoy fishing for trout. Are there plenty of places to wade at Tims Ford or maybe around that area and when is the best time to do so?


    John Frey

    Colorado fly fisherman coming to stay with friends on Tim’s Ford Lake right after Labor Day. I’d like to bring my tenkara outfit with some dry flies. Any chance I might do OK with such a rig below the Dam? Could bring my waders if that would make a difference. Thanks for any help you might be able to give.


    Robert Price

    I’m bringing my family to Tim’so Ford to bank fisher tomorrow. Can yall give any advice on where to go?

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