John's Journal...

Day 5: August Bream Fishing and September Duck Season with Billy Blakely on Reelfoot Lake

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, and how he uses his War Eagle Boat to catch fish and hunt ducks.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: Billy, Reelfoot is known as a bluegill lake in the summertime, but I know your best bluegill fishing generally runs May, June and July. Do you catch bluegills in August?

Blakely: Yes, we do. This month, the bluegills will be holding in cracks and tight places under the cypress trees.

Question: How do you catch them?

Blakely: I tight-line and fish-down the shoreline, using popeyed jigs on an 8-foot B’n’M pole. I prefer a short pole at this time of year to be able to get my baits under those limbs of the cypress trees and drop my jigs right in the cracks of those old cypress trees. You can’t do that with a longer pole. Plus, I’ve got a spinning reel on the back of the pole that allows me to reel the jig up to the very tip of the pole. So, once I use the pole to put the jig right where I want it to be, I can release line and let the jig fall naturally and vertically. I can lean over the side of my War Eagle boat and drop that jig right into those cracks and crevices - another advantage of this boat. If I’ve got two people bluegill fishing with me, all three of us can lean-out over the same side of the boat and drop our jigs to different parts of that cypress tree and not worry about tipping the boat up on one side. With a smaller, lighter boat, there’s no way three fishermen can lean out over the same side of the boat and not be looking at water close to the edge of the boat. So, this boat is perfectly designed for this kind of bream fishing. There aren’t any people doing this type of fishing right now, but you can catch plenty of bluegills with this tactic.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: What size jig do you fish with at this time of year?

Blakely: I use a 1/80-ounce jig, which is so small that I put a split shot about 3- or 4-inches up the line. Then I can get the line to pull off the guides and allow the jig to fall. During this hot weather, bluegills aren’t looking for a really-big bait. When they see that 1/80-ounce jig, they don’t have to move. When the bluegills suck-in water to bring-in those jigs to them, you can catch them. There are some little wooly critters on the cypress trees at this time of year, and this jig perfectly imitates those wooly critters. So, I’m trying to match the hatch.

Question: What color of these small jigs seems to be the best?

Blakely: I catch most of my bluegills on dark-colored jigs, mostly browns and blacks.

Question: What size bluegills do you catch?

Blakely: On average, they’ll weigh from 12- to 14-ounces each.

Question: How many bluegills will you catch in a day?

Blakely: We’ve been averaging 40 to 60 a day.

Question: In September, you have a special wood duck and teal season on Reelfoot. What will be the season this year?

Blakely: From September 11-15, we have a 5-day season. We generally can go out and hunt teal and wood ducks from daylight until about 9:00 am and almost always get our limit of four ducks per person. Then, when we come-in from duck hunting, we’ll usually take our hunters fishing for crappie, bass, catfish or bluegills. So, they can get a blast-and-cast for 5 days here at Reelfoot.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: How do you do that?

Blakely: One of my War Eagle boats is set-up for duck hunting, and the other one is set-up for fishing. So, we can come-in from duck hunting and then our sportsmen will change clothes and get a bite to eat. By the time they return, I’ve got my War Eagle fishing boat ready. So, we just step out of one War Eagle boat and into another.

Question: How successful are you on teal and wood ducks at Reelfoot Lake, and how many can each hunter take of each type?

Blakely: You’re allowed two wood ducks per person and four teal per person. So, you either can have four teal, three teal and one wood duck or two teal and two wood ducks, but you can’t take more than four ducks.

Question: How do you hunt those teal?

Blakely: We hunt them out of our permanent duck blinds.

Question: Do you see any other ducks coming-in with the teal?

Blakely: Yes. Because our blinds are set-up between waterfowl refuges, we’ll see all types of ducks coming-in. So, we have to be careful and make sure our hunters only shoot the teal. If you want to get a jump on duck season, Reelfoot’s the place to do it, and you don’t have to give up a fishing day to shoot ducks during September.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: Do you decoy those teals, and do you use a teal whistle to call them?

Blakely: Absolutely. We have our decoys out, and we call ducks just like we call them during duck-hunting season.

Blakely: What kind of teal do you mostly take in September?

Blakely: The majority of our teal will be blue wing, but we occasionally get a green wing and rarely, if ever, we get a cinnamon.

For more information about fishing or hunting at Reelfoot, you can call Billy Blakely at (877) 258-3226 or visit To learn more about War Eagle Boats’ top-quality products, go to or call (870) 367-1554.

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 5