John's Journal...


Stumping for Reelfoot Crappie

EDITOR’S NOTE: Billy Blakely has fished at Reelfoot Lake most of his life and has guided at Blue Bank Resort on the lake near Tiptonville, Tennessee, for the past 23 years. Today Blakely will share with us a little-known crappie-fishing secret used at Reelfoot .

Blakely: As the weather begins to warm up in the spring, more anglers will come to Reelfoot Lake to catch the crappie moving Click to enlargein to the shallow water. We catch these stump crappie, as I call them, by using a 10-foot B’n’M pole, 8-pound-test Mossy Oak Fishing Line and Spike-It jigs. The color of jig we use depends on the clarity of the water, the brightness of the day and the mood of the fish. The secret to catching crappie here on Reelfoot is to find the trees along the shore with the biggest bases. We fish around many of the cypress trees growing in the lake, and I’ve always found that the trees with the biggest bases on any shoreline usually will have the most crappie around them. If you go to the big trees first on the shoreline and catch two or three crappie around those big-based trees, then you know the crappie are on that tree line. You can fish the bases of all those trees and catch a good amount of crappie. If you don’t catch any crappie around the biggest-based tree on the shoreline, then move to another area, and fish the biggest tree trunks you can find there in the water until you start catching crappie. By targeting the biggest trees on the shoreline, you can locate more crappie quicker and determine on which shoreline the most crappie are spawning. Click to enlargeWhen I start looking for crappie, I use a 1/4-ounce jighead with a Spike-It trailer. I like that heavier jighead because I can fish it quickly around the big-based trees until I find the crappie. Once I catch a crappie, I take that 1/4-ounce jig off and start fishing with a 1/8- or 1/16-ounce Spike-It jig. Generally I catch more crappie using the smaller jigs. My 1/4-ounce jigs are my search jigs to pinpoint the crappie, and then I use the smaller Spike-It jigs to catch the crappie I find. Most of the time, when the crappie are holding under trees, we catch them in 2 to 4 feet of water. The crappie start moving under the trees about the second week in April each year and remain under them for three to four weeks. You can wear them out tight-lining a Spike-It jig. Last year, in 1 hour and 10 minutes, my party and I caught 87 crappie that weighed from 3/4-pound- to 2-1/2-pounds each. The second week of April until the second week of May is prime time for crappie fishing at Reelfoot Lake. If you’re planning to come, you better book a trip early because all the marinas and lodges on Reelfoot Lake will fill up early.

To catch crappie at Blue Bank Click to enlargeResort, contact Billy Blakely at 1-877-BLUE-BANK (1-877-258-3226), or visit On a package trip, you can fish for four days, stay four nights at Blue Bank Resort and including the cost of boat, motor, bait, gas and ice spend $209 per person. If you prefer to fish on your own, Billy Blakely and the other guides will tell you where to go and how to catch them. A guide charges $200 per day for two people.

Tomorrow: Flat-Topping Crappie

Check back each day this week for more about Billy Blakely and Reelfoot Lake

Day 1: Black Crappie
Day 2: Stumping for Reelfoot Crappie
Day 3: Flat-Topping Crappie
Day 4: Casting and Retrieving
Day 5: Bet on the Bluegills



Entry 345, Day 2