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Billy Blakely Catches All Kinds of Fish at Blue Bank Resort on Tennessee's Reelfoot Lake

Bass Fishing at Blue Bank Resort

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Billy Blakely, the manager and the head guide of Blue Bank Resort on Reelfoot Lake near Tiptonville, Tennessee, says Reelfoot’s fishing in the late spring and all summer is as hot as a recently-shot pistol. The first week in May, while at Bluebank, my fishing friend and I saw good limits of crappie, bluegills, catfish and lunker largemouth being brought in every day, even on the days when the rain was pouring down. This week we’ll show and tell you what’s being caught at Reelfoot, and how anglers and guides are catching them.

Question: Billy, where are you finding bass at this time of year at Reelfoot, and on what are you catching them?
Blakely: Right now at the first of May, 70 percent of our bass have spawned, and 30 percent are spawning on the stumps in the lake. The bass that have already spawned are moving to the trees and the grass in the lake. We’re catching those fish on a 1/2-ounce Strike King Premier Elite jig. We’re taking the bass that are still on the beds on Strike King’s Red Eye Shad and the King Shad, a swim bait. We’re also catching a good number of big bass on the Pure Poison, a bladed swimming jig. Last week, Shane Upchurch made three casts with a Pure Poison while he was putting out Yo-Yos to catch catfish. One of the bass he caught weighed 3 pounds and the other largemouth weighed 5-1/2-pounds.

Question: How are you finding the bass on Reelfoot?
Blakely: Look for tree lines close to the numerous underwater stumps in Reelfoot, and you should catch some of the bass that have just come off the beds and are feeding-up before they move back into deep water. After the bassClick to enlarge have fed heavily, when they have completed their spawn, then they’ll move out into the lake. Wherever you find baitfish, you’ll locate bass. Most of the baitfish will be holding around different groups of trees, grassy shorelines and trees in the water along the shoreline. They’ll also be feeding in the lily pads.

Question: How many bass can two fishermen with a guide expect to catch in 6 to 8 hours of bass fishing?
Blakely: Right now, at this time of the year, you should catch 15- 25 bass per boat. Our average bass will weigh 3 to 3-1/2-pounds. In an average day of fishing, you should have no problem catching a bass that weighs 6 or 7 pounds. Although the biggest bass I’ve ever personally caught here weighed 8-1/2-pounds, I’ve seen a bass caught here that weighed 9 pounds, 2 ounces.

Question: What’s the best time to catch really big bass?
Blakely: From April through July or August, and then from September until the beginning of duck season. Bass fishing may be good during duck season, but I really don’t know because that’s when I’m duck hunting.

Question: What’s your number-1 bait to catch big bass?
Blakely: My favorite for catching big bass is Strike King’s Premier Elite jig in the black and blue colors with a Denny Brauer 3X Chunk on the back of it. I’ll be fishing it by flipping it around trees standing in the water on 20-pound-test monofilament line. I do have one rod with braided line on it. There’s advantages to fishing both braided line and monofilament. One of the reasons I don’t fish braided line very often is because it’s so tough and so strong that you usually can’t break it, even if you get hung-up. Because of the small diameter of the braid, it can easily get under roots, cut into those roots and help hold the fish Click to enlargedown, which keeps you from landing that fish. If you’re fishing with monofilament, the monofilament will slide down the root and help you get your bass out of the root. So, if I’m fishing around trees with roots, especially live trees, I prefer to use monofilament. But if I’m fishing tree tops that are blown-down on the bank, I prefer the braided line.

Question: If a fisherman comes to this lake for the first time, how does he or she know how to find the bass?
Blakely: This lake has so many standing trees, so much good shoreline and so much grass and lily pads that the cheapest and quickest way to find and catch bass here is to hire a guide, at least the first day you fish here. Let that guide teach you how and where to pinpoint bass while you’re here. If you don’t want to do that, then fish fast, and eliminate water until you locate the bass. The real secret to finding big bass on this lake is to not be afraid to use unusual techniques and fish in places that no one else will consider fishing. Because this lake was formed by an earthquake, and all the timber fell into the lake during the earthquake, there’s no place you can float a boat over at Reelfoot that doesn’t have cover under it. For insClick to enlargetance, if you go by a small patch of lily pads out in the middle of the lake that everyone drives over every day, I’ll just about guarantee you that little patch of lilies will home some big bass. If you see one or two trees out in the lake that everyone drives by, and you never see anyone fishing it, those trees are holding some big bass. If I want to catch a really-big bass, I’ll search for overlooked places where no one else is fishing.

Question: What do you do, and where do you fish if you just want to catch a lot of bass?
Blakely: If I want to catch numbers of bass, I fish the shoreline, primarily with a spinner bait.

For further information about Blue Bank Resort, you can call (877) 258-3226 or (731) 253-8976 or visit Until May 31st, Blue Bank has a special where you can fish (includes boat, motor, gas, bait and ice) for 4 days and stay either 3 or 4 nights for $169/person, with the cost $209 per person after that time. To learn more about Strike King’s top-quality lures, go to

Tomorrow: The Crappie King at Reelfoot

Check back each day this week for more about "Billy Blakely Catches All Kinds of Fish at Blue Bank Resort on Tennessee's Reelfoot Lake"

Day 1: Bluegills and Shellcrackers at Their Best
Day 2: Bass Fishing at Blue Bank Resort
Day 3: The Crappie King at Reelfoot
Day 4: Catfish in the Sunshine
Day 5: Catfish and Bass by Starlight



Entry 404, Day 2