John's Journal...


How Blakely Catches Bream

Click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: Billy Blakely of Tiptonville, Tennessee, manages Blue Bank Resort on Reelfoot Lake and also is the chief fishing guide there. Each day Blakely and the other guides who work with him on Reelfoot Lake take clients out fishing for bluegills, crappie, catfish and bass. “We have to depend on the fishing line we use to help us be successful and to help our clients to catch fish,” Blakely explains. “That’s the reason we’ve all changed over to Mossy Oak Fishing Line. We know that when a fish takes the bait we can depend on the Mossy Oak Line to put that fish in the boat.” This week Blakely will tell us how he and the other guides at Blue Bank produce large numbers of fish each day throughout the spring and summer. You may not believe the catch numbers that Blakely reports, but if you doubt that he and his other guides can produce as many fish in a day as they say, go to Reelfoot Lake. Fish with Blakely and/or his guides. He’ll prove it to you.

May and June are two of our best months for catching both bluegills and shellcrackers here at Blue Bank Resort on Reelfoot Lake. The lake is a relatively-shallow lake that was formed by an earthquake that caused the Mississippi River to spill over on the land and create the lake. The average depth of Reelfoot is 4-7 feet, and the lake’s full of underwater stumps and trees. If you put your bass boat in Reelfoot andClick to enlarge run your motor at full throttle across this lake, the lake will eat your propeller and lower unit up. Reelfoot also homes plenty of standing timber in it, a large number of cypress trees and vast expanses of grass and lily pads that provide ideal habitat for bluegills.

The most-effective way to catch bream, both bluegills and shellcrackers, at this year is to fish with Popeye jigs and wax worms and 6-pound-test line. The small jigs we’re using for bream have feather tails, and we put a wax worm on each No. 6 hook. We don’t use floats or weights on our rigs. We fish tight lines. We’ll put a spinning reel on a 10-foot B’N’M pole and let out about 2-1/2 to 3-feet of the line below the tip of the pole. Then we’ll swim the jigs just under the surface around the cypress trees standing out in the water. Or, we’ll drop our jigs and swim in the open holes in the lily pads. One of the tricks to catching the most bluegills is that anytime there’s a crack or an opening in the trunk of a cypress tree, you need to put the tip of your pole in that hole and swim the jig inside the cypress tree. That’s when the bluegills will attack.

We like to fish 6-pound-test Mossy Oak Fishing Line because that line has a small diameter, which gives the jig much more action than a larger line will. Yet that line is strong enough and abrasion-resistant enough to fight a big bluegill out of the cypress and get it into the boat. To be honest, I wouldn’t have a problem even fishing 4-pound-test line for those bream, because this line from Mossy Oak Fishing Line is so tough and so strong. When we’re bluegill fishing with customers from all Click to enlargeacross the country, we don’t judge the success of the day with how many bites we’ve gotten or how many bream we’ve missed, but rather on how many bream we‘ve bought to the boat and put in the ice chest. That Mossy Fishing Oak Line helps us get the bream to the boat and in the cooler.

One of the problems we have fishing under and in these cypress trees are that the bluegills and shellcrackers aren’t the only fish that live next to the trees. We may catch channel catfish weighing from 2- to 7-pounds each and bass that will weigh from 1/2- up to 5-6 pounds when we’re fishing for bluegills. Therefore we must fish with a line strong enough to land a 1-1/2 to 2-pound bream but that’s also able to take the shock of a vicious catfish or bass strike on that light line, enable us to play that fish down and bring it to the boat. That’s why we fish with 6-pound-test line instead of 4-pound test. With the 6-pound-test fishing line, our fishermen can catch the catfish and the bass besides the bream.

At this time of the year, the bream are feeding just under the surface on bugs and insects that fall off the trees out in the water or off the lily pads. Our average bluegills here at Reelfoot Lake will weigh 12-14 ounces each and catching a bluegill that weighs 1- to 1-1/2-pounds isn’t uncommon. In a day of fishing, two fishermen generally will catch 70-90 bluegills and shellcrackers, and there’s no limit on bluegills on Reelfoot Lake. If you like to catch big bluegills and shellcrackers and plenty of them, now’s the time to visit Reelfoot and fish for them. If youClick to enlarge fish with us, we provide the rods, the reels, the line and the baits for you. All of our poles are strung with 6-pound-test fishing line when you fish for bream.

To learn more about Blue Bank Resort, go to or call
1-877-258-3226. Blue Bank has a motel, restaurant, guide service, rental boats, motors, fishing tackle and a bait shop. For more information about Mossy Oak Fishing Line, go to



Check back each day this week for more about WHEN LINE COUNTS

Day 1: How Blakely Catches Bream
Day 2: Come Catch Some Catfish
Day 3: Nighttime Fishing for Cats
Day 4: Year-Round Crappie
Day 5: Busting Bass on Reelfoot



Entry 300, Day 1