John's Journal...


How To Fish For Crappie On Reelfoot Lake

EDITOR’S NOTE: Blue Bank Resort on Reelfoot Lake near Tiptonville, Tennessee, is in high gear in the fall, with anglers catching plenty of crappie, catfish and bass every day. Billy Blakely is the resort manager/chief guide and has been guiding on Reelfoot for 23 years.

QUESTION: Billy, where are the crappie at this time of year in the fall?

BLAKELY: The white crappie are in open water holding on stumps, logs and trees, usually in 4 to 15 feet of water.

QUESTION: How are you rigging to catch these crappie?

Click to enlargeBLAKELY: I use a double-hook crappie rig, which includes a hook on the bottom that’s 3 inches up the line and a 1/4-ounce sinker and wire splitter at the top. The splitter keeps the top hook away from the main line. Farther up the line, we use a slip bobber with a stopper to allow us to set the depth at which our bait will fall. We also fish with a spider rig that can hold eight poles in the front of the boat and eight poles in the back of the boat. Because of the slip cork, we can tell when a crappie takes the bait. All our poles are rigged with 8-pound-test Mossy Oak Fishing Line. We fish small shiner minnows on all our poles.

QUESTION: Why do you like spider rigging for crappie?

BLAKELY: We use 16-feet poles and cover 25 to 30 feet of water as we troll. Our corks are set 2-feet apart. We’ve learned that the more water you cover, the more crappie you can catch. By easing through the stumps on Reelfoot Lake, we’re able to put the bait in front of the crappie so they can see the minnows.

QUESTION: When fish start biting, do you drop your anchor?

Click to enlargeBLAKELY: I like to drift with the wind. When I catch a big fish, I drop the anchor and continue to fish. The other thing I like about drifting is that we are much quieter than if we’re using the trolling motor. I use the wind to move me, but I keep my trolling motor down, ready for action.

QUESTION: How long does a day of crappie fishing last at Reelfoot?

BLAKELY: We usually leave the lodge at 8:00 am and come back around 3:00 pm. Of course, another factor depends on how well we’re fishing. If our party limits out, we come in early, but if fishing is slow, then we stay out longer. At this time of year, catching a limit per person is usually not a problem. Last week, I took out a party of two, and within two hours we caught 87 crappie. The average crappie weighs anywhere from ¾ - to 1-1/4 pounds. However, catching a 1- to 1-1/2-pound crappie is not a problem.

QUESTION: Do you and your guides put out yo-yos to catch catfish while catching crappie?

Click to enlargeBLAKELY: Yes, we do. You can get a cooler full of catfish while crappie fishing.

QUESTION: If you fish for crappie and catfish, how many fish do you usually catch?

BLAKELY: Last week, we put out three dozen yo-yos. In 2-1/2-hours, our party caught 87 crappie and 200 pounds of catfish. That’s all the fish anyone wants to keep.

You can call – 1-877-Blue Bank or visit to learn more.


Check back each day this week for more about BILLY BLAKELY ON REELFOOT LAKE

Day 1: How To Fish For Crappie On Reelfoot Lake
Day 2: Jug Fishing
Day 3: Bassing On Reelfoot
Day 4: Ducks
Day 5: Cast And Blast



Entry 324, Day 1