John's Journal...


Casting and Retrieving

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: When we have 10 lily pads that you can work jigs through, we cast and retrieve Spike-It jigs on corks. We use our 6-1/2 foot B’n’M poles, small bobbers and Spike-It jigs. We’ll cast our baits out, let the corks stand up, pop them and then let the corks sit still. By popping the corks, we get the crappie's attention. When they see those jigs under the corks, they will come and attack the jigs. Often the crappie will take the jigs when we pop the corks. Most of the time Click to enlargethey take the jigs after we pop the corks, and the jigs will sit still in the water. This technique will also work around shallow-water trees, especially those in just 2 feet of water where most people won’t fish. They think the water is too shallow, and the crappie won’t feed in that little bit of water. Some days when the crappie are spawning, they’ll be in water so shallow that their dorsal fins will be out of the shallow water. I’ve learned that if you want to catch big crappie, fish the places that no one else is fishing and the water depths where no one else is looking for crappie.

If I fish in shallow water and I have to make a long cast, I may even use a 7-foot B’n’M pole, which will allow me to cast a bit further. Once again, I use 8-pound test Mossy Oak Fishing Line. Because of the line’s small diameter, it casts a long way but is strong enough to pull a 2-pound crappie to the boat from 20- to 30-yards away. On dark days, I use dark-colored Spike-It jigs. On bright days, I use light-colored Spike-It jigs. On dark I days I like black- and purple-colored jigs. On bright days, I like pink-and-chartreuse jigs. I don’t Click to enlargeknow why the crappie like the pink-and-chartreuse jigs because they don’t look like any kind of baitfish they would normally eat. All I know is that color works on this lake. If you can’t find a pink-and-chartreuse-colored jig, buy a pink jig and dip the tail in chartreuse Spike-It’s Jig-N-Dip. Then you’ll have the color you need.

April is the best month for catching crappie at Reelfoot Lake. You can catch them with so many different tactics during that time of the year. In April, you can catch crappie trolling with a spider rig, casting around the trees or moving in to the shallow-water grass, pads and fish for the crappie. Our crappie usually spawn out by mid-May, and then they move out to deep water. If you fish in the daytime through the summer, you’ll usually catch a lot of small crappie. If you fish at night in the summertime, you can catch the Click to enlargebigger crappie by fishing deep. We fish with a slow-moving boat around underwater stumps and logs using minnows and drop fishing. If you want to fish jigs instead of fishing with minnows, use dark-colored Spike-It jigs.

To catch crappie at Blue Bank Resort, 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: Bet on the Bluegills

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 4