John's Journal...


Nighttime Fishing for Cats

Click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: Billy Blakely of Tiptonville, Tennessee, manages Blue Bank Resort on Reelfoot Lake and also is the chief fishing guide there. Each day Blakely and the other guides who work with him on Reelfoot Lake take clients out fishing for bluegills, crappie, catfish and bass. “We have to depend on the fishing line we use to help us be successful and to help our clients to catch fish,” Blakely explains. “That’s the reason we’ve all changed over to Mossy Oak Fishing Line. We know that when a fish takes the bait we can depend on the Mossy Oak Line to put that fish in the boat.” This week Blakely will tell us how he and the other guides at Blue Bank produce large numbers of fish each day throughout the spring and summer. You may not believe the catch numbers that Blakely reports, but if you doubt that he and his other guides can produce as many fish in a day as they say, go to Reelfoot Lake. Fish with Blakely and/or his guides. He’ll prove it to you.

We enjoy some of the Reelfoot Lake’s best catfishing at night when we fish with Yo-Yos. Yo-Yos are Mechanical Fishermen. Each Yo-Yo consists of a round circle with a spring inside of it and a trigger on the outer edge. The Yo-Yo comes with small-diameter nylon line coiled-up inside of it so that when you pull the line out, the Click to enlargespring inside compresses. When a catfish takes the bait and trips the trigger, the spring uncoils and sets the hook. Then as the catfish fights against the Yo-Yo, the fish encounters more resistance as it swims away from the Yo-Yo. When the catfish tires, the Yo-Yo pulls the fish back to the tree where the Yo-Yos tied. On the end of the barrel swivel that’s attached to the nylon line in the Yo-Yo, we’ll tie 2-3 feet of 12-pound-test Mossy Oak Fishing Line. Then at the end of the line, we’ll tie on a No. 2/0 Daiichi circle hook. We use this smaller hook on the Yo-Yos than when fishing on a rod and reel because we want the catfish to get the hook deeper in its mouth, since the Yo-Yo can’t set the hook as quickly as an angler who’s holding a rod and reel can. We want the Yo-Yo bait to be about 1-2 feet under the water, which is the depth at which the catfish feed at night. We tie Yo-Yos rigged like this onto the tree limbs of the cypress trees standing out in the water at Reelfoot Lake.

At night I also bait with Dynamite Bite baits from Strike King Lure Company in either the catalpa or the shad flavor, just like I fish during the daytime. However, at night, I’ve also found that the cheese-flavored Dynamite Bites produce really well. Catfish are fickle and will sometimes prefer one flavor over the other. So, when we put Click to enlargeour Yo-Yos out at night, we bait 1/3 with cheese-flavored Dynamite Bites, another 1/3 with shad-flavored Dynamite Bites and the last 1/3 with catalpa-flavored Dynamite Bites. Then whichever flavor has produced the most catfish when we check our Yo-Yos for the first time, we change out the baits on the other 2/3 of the Yo-Yos to the flavor that’s catching the most catfish that night. Our Yo-Yos will be fishing in 3-5 feet of water, and we‘ll usually put out 60-70 Yo-Yos per night. We have put out as many as 150 Yo-Yos in one night. We put the Yo-Yos out a little before dark, and we usually check them three to five times before 11:00 p.m. In that time, on an average night, we expect to catch about 300 pounds of catfish off the Yo-Yos. Now, if you want to have a lot of fun and fill your cooler with catfish, this way is how to do it. One of the reasons we believe we catch so many catfish here at Reelfoot Lake is because of the Strike King stinkbait we’re using and the dependable 12-pound-test Mossy Oak Fishing Line we’re using from the barrel swivel to the hook. The Strike King bait gets the catfish on the hook, and the Mossy Oak Fishing Line keeps the catfish on the Yo-Yo until we come by, dip it up and put it in the ice chest. If you want to catch a bunch of catfish and fill up your cooler any time from May through September, cat-catching doesn’t get any better than it does here at Reelfoot. Whether you’re 8- or 80-years old, Yo-Yo fishing at night for catfish is the best way to fill your cooler full of catfish.

Click to enlargeTo learn more about Blue Bank Resort, go to or call
1-877-258-3226. Blue Bank has a motel, restaurant, guide service, rental boats, motors, fishing tackle and a bait shop. You also can visit to learn about the company’s baits for catfish. For more information about Mossy Oak Fishing Line, go to To learn more about Yo-Yos, go to or contact Mechanical Fisher Division, P.O. Box 1170, Diamond City, Arkansas 72630, (870) 422-7715.


Check back each day this week for more about WHEN LINE COUNTS

Day 1: How Blakely Catches Bream la
Day 2: Come Catch Some Catfish
Day 3: Nighttime Fishing for Cats
Day 4: Year-Round Crappie
Day 5: Busting Bass on Reelfoot



Entry 300, Day 3