Billy Blakely of Reelfoot Lake on Hot-Weather Fishing and September Duck Hunting
Day 1: Billy Blakely of Blue Bank Resort Tells Us How to Catch Hot-Weather Crappie
Editor’s Note: Although temperatures have reached 100 degrees and more each day this month across much of the South and even other sections of the country, the fish at Reelfoot Lake in northwest Tennessee are still biting. Billy Blakely, head guide and manager at Blue Bank Resort on Reelfoot Lake, hunts and fishes all year, regardless of weather conditions. This week, Blakely will tell us what he’s catching and how he’s catching them, during the Dog Days of summer.
Question: Billy, how do you find and catch crappie on Reelfoot Lake this month?
Blakely: The crappie have moved out to deep water. At Reelfoot, deep water is only 6- to 8-feet deep. We’re using the B’n’M Capps and Coleman Minnow Rigs and trolling about 1-foot off the bottom over the thickest cover we can locate. The cover in this water will be stumps and logs. The crappie will be holding down on those logs, but when they see live minnows passing over their heads, they’ll come up and eat them. This is also the depth of water at which the shad are holding. When you pinpoint the shad, you’ll locate the crappie.
Question: How many poles do you use, and how do you use them?
Blakely: We use 10 to 12 B’n’M poles on the front of my War Eagle 2072 LDSV boat.
Question: What pound-test line do you use?
Blakely: I fish with 10-pound-test Vicious line and tie the B’n’M Capps and Coleman Minnow Rigs to the end of the line. I’ve got a 1/4-ounce weight on the bottoms of those Capps and Coleman Minnow Rigs. The bottom hook is about 1-1/2-feet off the bottom, and the top hook is 1-foot above the bottom hook. I troll this crappie rig as slowly as possible.
Question: What time do you start fishing, and how long do you fish?
Blakely: I start fishing about 5:30 am or 6:00 am and fish until about 11:00 am. This way, I miss the hottest part of the day.
Question: How many pole holders do you use?
Blakely: I use 12 poles. I had my pole holders specially made to hold 12 poles on the front of my War Eagle boat. This way, I can sit on the front of the boat and fish, and my two clients can sit beside me. So, each of us has four poles to watch. Because of my War Eagle boat, I can have both my fishermen plus myself on the front of the boat fishing, and no one has to sit on the back of the boat. My live well is right behind us. I leave the lid open and the aerator running. This way, when we catch a crappie, we can unhook it and pitch it right into the live well.
Question: What size crappie do you catch?
Blakely: We catch crappie from 1/2- to 2-pounds each in August and early September.
Question: What’s an average day of crappie fishing in August and early September on Reelfoot Lake?
Blakely: We generally catch from 40 to 60 crappie. Recently, we caught 46 crappie that we kept, and we probably threw back that many little ones. In an average day of crappie fishing, when we keep the biggest crappie and throw back the smallest ones, we’ll usually catch 80 to 125 crappie in a day. We only keep the biggest ones.
Question: Why do most people not fish at this time of the year?
Blakely: Many people don’t like to get out in the hot weather, but they’re missing out on some of the best crappie fishing all year during August and September. If you go early in the morning and come in before the weather gets too hot, you still can have a great day of fishing and catch plenty of fish. We prefer to get out on the water just as daylight’s breaking. Then between 11:00 am and 12:00 pm, when the weather gets really hot, we call it quits, come-in, have something to eat, relax and enjoy the rest of the day.
For more information about fishing or hunting at Reelfoot, call Billy Blakely at (877) 258-3226 or visit www.bluebankresort.com. To learn more about crappie fishing, go to www.nighthawkpublications.com/fishing/fishing.htm and order John E. Phillips’ book, “Master’s Secrets of Crappie Fishing, for $13.50, which includes shipping and handling. For more information about War Eagle Boats, check out War Eagle Boats.
Tomorrow: Reelfoot Lake’s Billy Blakely Explains How to Catch Catfish During the Dog Days of Summer