John's Journal...


Black Crappie

EDITOR’S NOTE: Billy Blakely has fished at Reelfoot Lake most of his life and has guided at Blue Bank Resort on the lake near Tiptonville, Tennessee, for the past 23 years. Today Blakely will share with us a little-known crappie-fishing secret used at Reelfoot .

Click to enlargeBlakely: Reelfoot Lake is famous for white crappie. Ninety-eight percent of our anglers fish for and catch white crappie. We have a good population of what we call "stubbies,” black crappie that are short and fat. The black crappie are shallow-water oriented, and they stay around the lily pads and grass. We catch them with jigs and small corks. The best days to catch stubbies are on overcast days and rainy days - days when most crappie anglers don’t want to fish. We find the black crappie any place where lily pads have been present the previous year. One of my favorite areas to look for black crappie is where there are duck blinds back in the marsh. The shallow holes there make good places for the black crappie to spawn. I like to use a 6-1/2- foot B’n’M pole with 8-pound-test Mossy Oak Fishing Line to catch crappie. That 8-pound-test line is tough enough to come through lily pads with a big black crappie on the hook yet small enough so Click to enlargethat the crappie can’t see it. I like the B’n’M pole because it’s small and lightweight, I can fish it all day long without getting tired, and it has the power to pull a big black crappie in to the boat. Many of our anglers like the dark-colored Spike-It jigs like those in black-and-chartreuse, purple-and-chartreuse, deep blue or chartreuse. If you can’t find jigs those colors, take a dark-colored jig and dip the tail in Spike-It’s chartreuse dye which will enable you to put a chartreuse tail on a dark jig.

I usually use my trolling motor and ease along the edges of the lily pads, casting the colored jig on a bobber until I catch a black crappie. Once I take one of those fish, I’ll continue to fish that area because black crappie usually school together. On a good day with a party of several savvy anglers, we generally can catch 60 to 100 crappie weighing from 3/4- to 2-1/2-pounds each. We had a tournament here in early March of 2006 where the winner caught seven black crappie that weighed a total of 13 pounds, 7.4ounces. The reason most people fish for white crappie near Reelfoot Lake is because the white crappie are easier to Click to enlargecatch. You can simply spider-rig with six poles out and troll for the white crappie. However, more people now are starting to fish for the black crappie at Reelfoot Lake.

To catch crappie at Blue Bank Resort, contact Billy Blakely at 1-877-BLUE-BANK (1-877-258-3226), or visit On a package trip, you can fish for four days, stay four nights at Blue Bank Resort and including the cost of boat, motor, bait, gas and ice spend $209 per person. If you prefer to fish on your own, Billy Blakely and the other guides will tell you where to go and how to catch them. A guide charges $200 per day for two people.

Tomorrow: Stumping for Reelfoot Crappie

Check back each day this week for more about Billy Blakely and Reelfoot Lake

Day 1: Black Crappie
Day 2: Stumping for Reelfoot Crappie
Day 3: Flat-Topping Crappie
Day 4: Casting and Retrieving
Day 5: Bet on the Bluegills



Entry 345, Day 1