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

Catfish in the Sunshine

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, I know you catch catfish during the daytime and at night, but today let’s talk about daytime catfish. Where do you find them, and how do you catch em?
Blakely: We catch em on Yo-Yos and rods and reels. If we’re fishing during the daytime with rods and reels, I look for leaning logs out in the water. The more the log leans, and the bigger the log is, the more catfish you’ll find holding on that leaning log. The catfish like to move into those leaning logs, wallow Click to enlarge themselves out holes and lie under those logs in those holes and ambush baitfish.

Question: How do you catch those cats that are holding under those leaning logs?
Blakely: We anchor upwind from the log and use a slip cork. Since most of our leaning logs are in about 6 feet of water, we set the bobber stopper to stop the cork when the bait falls about 5 feet. This way the bait is suspended about a foot above the bottom. We cast toward the log and let the wind move our cork and our bait right up against the log. This way, the bait moves naturally toward the fish, and you don’t spook the cats by casting to them. We use Strike King Dynamite for bait. We like the Dynamite because they’re easy to put on the hooks. I’ll take one link, cut it in half and fish with half a link. The flavor I like the best is catalpa.Click to enlarge

Question: Billy, if you’re planning to catch catfish and will be fishing a 6-hour day with 2 people, how many cats can you expect to catch?
Blakely: We’ll generally catch 30-40 + catfish, and those cats will weigh from 90 to 130 pounds. In one 6-hour trip, 2 fishermen can catch enough catfish to have a major fish fry for two families.

Question: What pound test line are you using for these cats?
Blakely: We use from 14- to 17-pound-test line with either a 6 foot 6 inch to 7 foot rod, medium heavy to heavy. You have to have the power in the rod to set the hook hard and fast and get those cats away from the log quickly as soon as they take the baits. If you don’t move the cats away from the log as soon as they take the baits, they’ll spook the cats holding under the log.

Question: What’s the most number of cats you’ve caught under one log?Click to enlarge
Blakely: I’ve caught 40 cats out from under one log previously. Those cats will weigh from 1-pound to 25-pounds each. And, most logs will usually produce 4 to 10 cats. Then the next day after you’ve caught the cats out from under the log, there’s usually 4 to 10 catfish or more under the same log.

Question: Why does Reelfoot Lake produce so many cats?
Blakely: Reelfoot’s a really-old 18,000-acre lake, and the cats have plenty of food and habitat. So, they multiply like rabbits. There are also not very many people who fish for our cats. Although we do have blue cats and flathead cats in the lake, about 90% are channel cats.

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 catfishing products, go to

Tomorrow: Catfish and Bass by Starlight

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 4