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Its name is in honor of American statesman Henry Clay, member of the United States Senate from Kentucky and United States Secretary of State in the 19th century. Its county seat and the only incorporated city in the county is Celina. The Cumberland River flows through the center of the county from north to south, fed by the Obey River which flows through the city of Celina from its impoundment at the Dale Hollow Reservoir. The reservoir, known as Dale Hollow Lake, inundates much of the eastern part of the county.
Dale Hollow Lake, featuring 620 miles of shoreline, is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Upper Cumberland Region. This massive lake stretches from the Gainesboro area in the west to Byrdstown area in the east, and to the North well into Kentucky. There are 14 commercial marinas located around the lake, seven U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation areas and two state parks.
One of the highlights for anyone using the lake is fishing. It it well know for having trophy smallmouth bass. Smallmouth in the range of 14 to 18 inches are common with a large number of fish in the four to six inch range available. Larger trophy fish are quite possible for anglers. Other fish in the lake include largemouth bass, walleye, muskie, lake and rainbow trout, crappie as well as channel and flathead catfish.
Another very crucial use of the lake is recreation, including houseboat rentals. These popular rentals attract families and groups from all around the country who spend time on the lake. Other available rentals include pontoons, jet skis, bass boats, runabouts, fishing boats and more. Long, warm summers with mild winters provide a host of outdoor activities that enthusiasts can enjoy year-round including canoeing, fishing, camping, hunting, hiking, cycling, boating,nature walks and bird watching.