John's Journal...

Catching Crappie at Reelfoot Lake - the Real Deal

Day 3: How to Find and Catch White Crappie with Reelfoot Lake’s Billy Blakely

Editor’s Note: Reelfoot Lake in the northwestern corner of Tennessee, near Hornbeak, Tennessee, about 2-miles from the Mississippi River, is one of the most-productive crappie-fishing lakes in the nation. Anglers catch crappie there year-round in large numbers. At one time not too-many years ago, so many crappie were in the lake that they were caught and sold commercially. However, today there’s no commercial crappie fishing at Reelfoot, but anglers come from all over the country to fish its waters. Some of the best crappie-tournament fishermen anywhere also live on the banks of Reelfoot. This past week I fished with Billy Blakely, the chief guide for Blue Bank Resort on Reelfoot Lake. The weather was terrible. The wind was blowing, the waves were slapping the boat, but we still caught fish. This week we’ll learn how to catch crappie throughout the spring and into summer with Blakely. Be sure to see the video interviews we did with Blakely at the end of each day’s information.

Click for Larger ViewThe white crappie spawns after the black crappie. There are several distinguishing characteristics that help you identify the white crappie from the black crappie. The white crappie is the only member of the sunfish family that has six spines in its dorsal fin and six spines in its anal fin. Click for Larger ViewAlso the spots on the side of the white crappie are arranged in seven to nine vertical bars, while the spots on the black crappie are scattered. The sides of the white crappie are silver and olive and fade into an olive green on its back. The white crappie is generally longer and has a high-arching back in comparison to the black crappie. The white crappie also is often called a calico or white perch and the fishermen in Louisiana often call the white crappie “sac-a-lait, loosely translated as sack of milk.” The average white crappie will be 6- to 12-inches long and weigh less than a pound. However, 2- to 3-pound crappie aren’t that uncommon, and some have been reported weighing 5 pounds. You’ll find white crappie holding over hard and soft bottoms, and recent technology has shown that they often hold-out in open water, suspended during the summer and winter months. One of the newest devices to make finding white crappie much easier, especially when they’re suspended, is side-scanning sonar (depth finders).

Click for Larger View“On a side-scanner, the crappie will light-up like little Christmas trees when they’re holding on brush or stumps,” Blakely reports. “You’ll often see them under schools of bait when they’re in open water.” Billy Blakely has learned the technique for locating white crappie much like he finds turkeys. “I go out on the lake the afternoon before I’m going to fish the next morning and look for shad flipping on the surface. Generally wherever those shad are late in the afternoon is where they’ll be the following morning, and that’s where the crappie will be. Finding crappie before you fish for them is much like hunting turkeys. If you find where the turkey is gobbling from the roost the night before you try to hunt that turkey the following morning, you’ve got every reason to believe that that gobbler will be where he’s roosted the previous night. Click for Larger ViewWe’ve got a lot of stumps, logs and brush in Reelfoot Lake, but not all of these will be holding crappie. The one thing that crappie has to have more than anything else is food. Therefore, wherever you pinpoint the baitfish is usually where you’ll find the crappie.

For more information on crappie fishing at Blue Bank Resort, call 1-877-258-3226 (1-877-Blue Bank) or visit To learn the techniques that Blakely uses during March and April, click on the video below, and watch our interview with Billy Blakely.

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To learn more about crappie fishing, go to or, go to and type in “Crappie – How to Catch Them Spring and Summer.” You can purchase this book for only $2.99 to read on your Kindle or phone.

Tomorrow: Billy Blakely Explains Where to Find the Crappie after the Spawn at Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake

Check back each day this week for more about "Catching Crappie at Reelfoot Lake - the Real Deal "

Day 1: How to Catch Crappie in March and April with Billy Blakely
Day 2: Billy Blakely Says to Bet on Black Crappie Year-Round at Reelfoot Lake
Day 3: How to Find and Catch White Crappie with Reelfoot Lake’s Billy Blakely
Day 4: Billy Blakely Explains Where to Find the Crappie after the Spawn at Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake
Day 5: Billy Blakely Recommends You Fish Crankbaits for Crappie

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Entry 656, Day 3