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

The Crappie King at Reelfoot

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 caughClick to enlarget at Reelfoot, and how anglers and guides are catching them.

Question: What’s crappie fishing up here at Reelfoot like in late May and June, Billy?
Blakely: Crappie are spawning right now in May on Reelfoot. We’re catching most of our crappie by trolling (spider-rigging). By spider-rigging, we can find underwater logs to fish that we don’t know about as we fish logs that we do know their locations. When one of our trolling poles hits a log, we lower our front anchor and back anchor and fish by that underwater log. We’ve found that if the crappie are bedding beside those logs, we can jack these crappie out from under the logs without spooking ‘em, if we’ll use the long B ‘n’ M Poles. Last week, in one day, Jackie Wayne Van Cleave (one of our guides) had a party out that brought in two limits of crappie - 60 fish - that weighed from 3/4- to 2-3/4-pounds. They were trolling with minnows on double-hook rigs and using 10-pound-test line. They caught those fish in 4 hours. What’s important to remember here is they caught far more than 60 crappie and only kept the 60-biggest ones. The way we spider-rig is we put two fishermen in the front of the boat, and then generally both fishermen can get their limit of 30-fish each in 6 hours.

Question: What other tactics are you using right now to catch crappie?
Blakely: We pitch jigs around trees from now throughout the rest of the summer and thClick to enlargee fall. We use a long B ‘n’ M pole with a spinning reel to let out as much line as we need. We use a 1/16-ounce jig and drop the jig around the cypress trees standing in the water. Then we use our trolling motor to swim the jigs all the way around the trees. When I pull in to a tree line to fish for crappie, I look for the tree with the biggest trunk in the water. The trees with the biggest bottoms provide more shade for the crappie to hide in and a bigger root system, and these trees produce more bugs and more minnows than smaller trees do. Over the years, I’ve learned that the bigger bottom trees produce more crappie than tClick to enlargehe other trees do.

Question: What pound test line are you using when you’re crappie fishing around the trees?
Blakely: I use 6-pound test.

Question: Besides crappie, what other fish will you catch when you’re jigging around trees?
Blakely: We’ll catch bluegills, catfish, white bass and widemouths as well as drum. The biggest problem we have is with the catfish. When you catch a 4- or a 5-pound catfish on a 6-pound-test line and a limber B ‘n’ M pole, you’ve got a fight on your hands. That catfish will tear-up tackle and give you the thrill of a lifetime. Our cats will run from 2 pounds up to about 16 pounds, and every day we crappie fish around the trees, you can bet somebody’s gonna tie into a catfish.

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 B ‘n’ M Poles, visit

Tomorrow: Catfish in the Sunshine

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 3