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Billy Blakely of Reelfoot Lake on Hot-Weather Fishing and September Duck Hunting

Day 2: Reelfoot Lake’s Billy Blakely Explains How to Catch Catfish During the Dog Days of Summer

Editor’s Note: Although temperatures have reached 100 degrees and more each day this month across much of the South and even other sections of the country, the fish at Reelfoot Lake in northwest Tennessee are still biting. Billy Blakely, head guide and manager at Blue Bank Resort on Reelfoot Lake, hunts and fishes all year, regardless of weather conditions. This week, Blakely will tell us what he’s catching and how he’s catching them, during the Dog Days of summer.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: Billy, the Mississippi River historically has been one of the best catfish rivers in the nation. How good is the catfishing at Reelfoot during August and early September?

Blakely: You can catch all the cats you want. You only need to decide how many cats you want to clean before you go fishing. Catching 200 pounds of cats in a day of fishing is not uncommon. The same is true if you decide to fish for cats at night.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: In what depth of water do you catch the cats?

Blakely: Like the crappie, the cats hold in 6 to 8 feet of water at this time of year. I’m fishing around underwater logs you can’t see from the surface, but that can be located with your depth finder. I suggest you troll in what’s known at Reelfoot Lake as deep water, find the logs with your depth finder, mark that area with your GPS receiver and then return later to fish them.

Question: How do you fish for those catfish?

Blakely: If I have two clients, and each one’s fishing six poles, we rig three of the poles for each fisherman with bobbers. Then we can float the baits about 1- to 1-1/2-feet off the bottom. The other three poles we fish tight-lined right on the bottom. We catch most of our catfish on the catalpa-flavored Strike King Catfish Dynamite. We put the Catfish Dynamite in the little Strike King Huckleberry hook that holds it together, and the catfish really love it. I use the Catfish Dynamite on the three tight-line rods and reels, and then put three-different types of bait on the three poles where I have floats.

Question: How do you handle six poles, if you really start catching a number of catfish?

Blakely: Sometimes handling those six poles really gets to be a job, but it’s a lot of fun, and we catch a lot of catfish using this tactic.

Question: Do you often get more than one catfish on a pole at a time?

Blakely: Oh, yeah. Once when I was fishing, I had four cats on four rods and reels at the same time. My other fishermen had two.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: How big were the cats?

Blakely: They weighed from 1- to 13-pounds each.

Question: Where do you put the cats after you catch them?

Blakely: We usually fill-up the live well in my War Eagle 2072 LDSV boat. Also I carry a big cooler, and when we get too many cats for the live well, I put them in the cooler.

Question: What advantage does a War Eagle boat give you for catching cats at this time of year?

Blakely: When fishing in that 6- to 8-foot deep water, if the lake gets a 10- to a 15-mph wind, most boats will blow around everywhere. But with my War Eagle 2072 LDSV boat, I can drop a front and a back anchor, and the boat stays stable and steady and doesn’t rock all day. Click for Larger ViewHaving a boat that sits stable keeps our lines from jiggling, jerking and spooking the cats. Plus, we’ve got plenty of room for a big ice chest and to fish comfortably. If I have serious catfishermen with me, we’ll fill-up that live well and that big ice chest pretty quickly. We’ll put 100 to 200 pounds of cats in the boat in the morning. This volume of catfish requires plenty of room for your ice chest, drinks, sandwiches and other gear, and that’s what the War Eagle 2072 gives me and my clients. There’s plenty of room in it and a stable, comfortable platform where we can fish and wrestle cats.

For more information about fishing or hunting at Reelfoot, call Billy Blakely at (877) 258-3226 or visit To learn more about crappie fishing, go to and order John E. Phillips’ book, “Master’s Secrets of Crappie Fishing, for $13.50, which includes shipping and handling. For more information about War Eagle Boats, check out War Eagle Boats.

Tomorrow: Blue Bank Resort’s Billy Blakely Discusses Catching Catfish at Night

Check back each day this week for more about "Billy Blakely of Reelfoot Lake on Hot-Weather Fishing and September Duck Hunting

Day 1: Billy Blakely of Blue Bank Resort Tells Us How to Catch Hot-Weather Crappie
Day 2 :Reelfoot Lake’s Billy Blakely Explains How to Catch Catfish During the Dog Days of Summer
Day 3: Blue Bank Resort’s Billy Blakely Discusses Catching Catfish at Night
Day 4: Reelfoot Lake’s Exciting Bass Fishing in August and Early September with Billy Blakely
Day 5: August Bream Fishing and September Duck Season with Billy Blakely on Reelfoot Lake


Entry 575, Day 2