Traveling Ted is a blog that takes readers along on my adventures hiking, canoeing, skiing, and international backpacking. Many blogs focus on one aspect of backpacking, but I tackle both the outdoor adventure side and international exploration as well.

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Thanks to a recent collaboration with Mazda, I drove down to Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee in style. My ride was a new Mazda CX-50. I agreed to drive and make a Mazda CX-50 review while road tripping for a weekend fishing trip with friends. My car was dropped off on a Thursday afternoon, and by 5 p.m. I was stuck in rush hour traffic in Chicago trying to make my way south.

Mazda CX-50 review

Mazda CX-50 review at Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee

Mazda CX-50 review

Road trip down to Tennessee

If you are stuck in traffic for a couple hours, might as well be comfortable. I settled into my new ride making gridlock traffic a little more bearable. I was immediately impressed how easy it was to connect via blue tooth and set up Apple car play. Instantly, I had every song known to man, or at least Apple, at my fingertips and at my Siri voice command. I also had hundreds of stations on Xm/Sirius Radio. It was not long before I was rolling throw the cornfields of Indiana.

Mazda CX-50

After an 8 hour drive over two days, the Mazda CX-50 is parked in the cabin driveway

After a stop in Louisville, I made the rest of the journey the next morning. I rolled up to our cabin around 8 a.m. The last half mile was a precipitous drop down a ravine to Horse Creek Marina. I was glad the Mazda CX-50 had the latest AWD technology for terrain like this.

Mazda CX-50 road

Mazda CX-50.- Picture compliments of Mazda

First time fishing Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee

Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee was a new lake for us. This group of friends have been getting together for a spring fishing trip for almost two decades. We used to fish for walleye in Wisconsin, the past three years we have fished for crappie on Rend Lake in southern Illinois, and this was our first go at fishing Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee. Being from Chicago, this was a little far for a weekend trip, so another reason it was nice to have a comfortable ride going back and forth.

Related: Nekoosa Walley Days recap 2015

Dale Hollow Lake

Beautiful Dale Hollow while researching a Mazda CX-50 review

My first reaction when I got the car was I thought it was a little small. After packing all my gear though, I was amazed at how much fit into the back compartment alone. It was evident the car could easily fit two or three people comfortably with their equipment on a weekend road trip and five passengers easily without gear.

Horse Creek Marina

Horse Creek Marina where we docked boats and rented a cabin from

Mixed success fishing Dale Hollow Lake

We had three boats and six people when all had arrived. A few had already been fishing for a couple of days. Success was mixed. It is never easy to fish a new lake. I remember even struggling the first time I went fishing in Canada. Every lake has its own style, lures, techniques that work better than others. To make things even a little more complicated, Dale Hollow Lake is an incredibly deep lake. It drops off to 20-40 feet right off the shore. Furthermore, the lake is crystal clear. While this makes the lake more pleasant to the eye, a clear lake does not help out fishermen much as it makes it easier for fish to decipher the difference between fake food and the real thing.

Dale Hollow sunset

Beautiful Dale Hollow sunset

The best strategy that we found was to cast right up on the shore with mighty mites without any sinkers and jig it off the drop off and then reel in. My friend Neil talked to a local in town who confirmed the strategy. He told Neil it is a waste of time trying to reel slowly in the hopes of catching fish after coming off the drop off. He suggested we reel it in fast in order to get as many casts off the edge as possible.

Dale Hollow largemouth bass

Tommy with a nice largemouth bass Dale Hollow Lake

Nice largemouth bass

The first day out, me and Tommy had little action as we were reeling the lures in slowly. We each caught about five fish over several hours. One of the other boats caught over 50 fish each. We learned they followed the technique mentioned earlier and only played the drop-off. Even though we caught fewer fish, my boat mate Tommy had the most exciting moment of the day when he nailed a three pound large mouth. Check out my reel on @Travelingted for video of the exciting catch.

Dale Hollow Lake fish species

Range of fish caught at Dale Hollow included rainbow trout, crappie, rock bass, large and smallmouth bass, and bluegill

Dale Hollow Lake has an interesting range of species

What I did enjoy about Dale Hollow Lake is the range of species. We caught blue gill, crappie, rock bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and lake trout. They also have miskey, walleye, and northern pike. I managed to catch one small crappie, smallmouth bass, two rainbow trout, several rock bass, and many small blue gill. The largemouth bass eluded me. On the second day, I changed boats and was fish with Jim, and we managed a twofer off a windy point. We each landed a decent sized smallmouth at the same time. This fish and the two rainbow trout were the highlight of my fishing weekend.

Mazda selfie

Mazda CX-50 review and selfie

Driving a Mazda CX-50 was a highlight of the weekend

The highlight of my driving weekend was definitely driving the Mazda CX-50. The car handled smoothly on the highway and the four cylinder engine had a wonderful purr to it. I had to use the cruise control on the highway because the car handled so smoothly even at 70-75 that I was afraid I would accidentally speed.

Cabin life

The real highlight was hanging out with the boys for another fishing weekend

On Sunday morning, before leaving, I drove to the Dale Hollow Lake Dam. The lake was created by the Army Corps of Engineers with a dam on the Cumberland River. I drove through the twisting turning roads that passed through lush green forest land. Dale Hollow is one of the most gorgeous lakes I have enjoyed fishing on south of Minnesota and Canada. There are rolling hills covered in lush green forest as far as the eye can see. There are sections that are cleared where homes and business are, but the lake is huge and there are large sections where it feels like a wilderness lake.

Dale Hollow Tennessee

Dale Hollow Lake sunset

Interesting range of flora and fauna on Dale Hollow Lake

Besides the wide range of fish, there also seems to be a wide array of flora and fauna. We saw a beaver, loons, all kinds of turtles, beautiful prothonitory warblers, and many different kinds of butterflies. We were more focused on the fishing, but it seemed like there was always something interesting in the skies and along the shore when we took a look.

Beaver Dale Hollow

Always great to see a beaver

Mazda CX-50 review

Hard to say goodbye to the Mazda CX-50 after a wonderful road trip

Comforting to have a Mazda CX-50 with off-road capabilities

Since this was a new area for us to explore, we were not sure what to expect as far as the roads were concerned. There were a few twisty and turning country roads, but everything was paved and in good condition. The Mazda CX-50 specializes in off-road terrain, so even though we did not encounter this type of roads, it was reassuring that if I did, I had a capable car to handle gravel and possible muddy roads. The all wheel drive and the all season tires definitely looked capable to handle much more extreme adventure.

Mazda CX-50 mountain

Would love to take this car to the mountains next time – Picture compliments of Mazda

Soon enough, it was back on to I-65 towards Chicago. I was back in the Mazda CX-50 heading home. It was a great weekend at the cabin with the boys and more magical memories were made.

Adventure on!