John's Journal...


Flat-Topping 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 .

Click to enlargeBlakely: A technique we use to catch crappie here on Reelfoot Lake is fishing the flat tops, which is what we call lily pads. When you’re fishing lily pads, you really have to sneak up on the crappie, especially when the water’s clear. We’ll ease up to the lily pads and fish with a 12-foot B’n’M pole, 8-pound-test Mossy Oak Fishing Line and a 1/4-ounce Spike-It jighead. You want to drop that jig in the holes created by the lily pads. The crappie are laying right under the lily pads in the shade to ambush the minnows coming through the pads. You have to swim your jigs right under the pads to catch the crappie. I like that 1/4-ounce Spike-It jigs because I want it to go straight down in the hole between the lily pads. On a 12-foot pole, you need a heavier jig so you can control it better. I fish with a 12-foot B’n’M pole since once that crappie takes the jig, I need the power in the pole to jack the crappie out of cover. You have to remember that two or three crappie may be around the same hole. So, the quicker you can get that crappie out of the hole without disturbing it, the better your chances are for catching the crappie that are in that same hole. Click to enlargeAlthough our average crappie weighs 3/4- to 2-1/2- pounds, I saw a fella last year catch a 3-1/2-pound crappie out of those lily pads. Before, I have caught as many as 20 crappie from the same hole in the lilies. The crappie are very easy to find using this technique. You just go from one patch of lily pads to the next patch of lily pads until you find the fish. Once you find them, you can often limit out on one patch of lilies. You may pull up to one patch of lilies, get a bite, miss the crappie and not catch anymore out of that patch; then you may move to another patch of lilies and catch 30 or 40 crappie. The real secret to catching the crappie when they’re in the lilies is to eliminate certain patches until you find where the crappie are holding. When I’m fishing pads like this, my favorite colors are red and chartreuse jigs. I like the brighter colors for fishing pads and the darker colors for fishing trees.

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: Casting and Retrieving

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 3