Billy Blakley’s Reelfoot Summer Fishing Report
By Phillip Gentry
Starting off with the Fourth of July weekend, many anglers are settling into their summer routines, which unfortunately means not doing a lot of fishing. Some of the more common excuses are it’s too hot, the lakes too crowded, and the fish aren’t biting.
“Well, hold on there a minute,” said Bluebank Resort head fishing guide and B’n’M pro staffer Billy Blakley. “Sure it’s hot and sure there are people on the water, but the fish ain’t biting? That couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Blakley said the July fishing report for Lake Reelfoot, the famous little crappie and bream fishing hole that was created by an earthquake in western Tennessee back in 1811, is practically on fire.
Along with world class bluegill and crappie fishing, Reelfoot sports some impressive numbers of channel and flathead catfish as well.
Since he’s been catching plenty of bluegills beginning the middle of spring, that’s where he picks up. Blakley said with the full moon coming in the next few days, he’ll be looking for new beds that seem to pop up almost overnight. He suggested anglers look for bream bedding sites in 3 feet of water or less but look in areas where there is overhead shade.
“One mistake a lot of anglers make is to go back to last months beds or the ones they fished in the spring,” he said. “Those usually don’t produce too much later on in the year.”
Using side imaging sonar, Blakley will scan the shoreline, looking for golf ball like dimples on the lake bottom. Once he’s found a spot, he’ll stay back 15 – 20 feet and toss a live cricket on a #8 hook under a slip cork into the bedding area.
“The B’n’M TCB rod and a slip cork are a deadly combination for bluegill fishing,” he said. “We usually keep a 30 quart cooler full of bluegills for the boat each trip and most days, we’re out at daylight and back enjoying the shade and telling stories by lunchtime.”
B'n'M's new Black Diamond rod is a long rod with great balance and plenty of backbone for flipping jigs to crappie.
For catfishing fans, Blakley said the same areas that are holding bluegills are also likely to hold numbers of channels cats that run 3 – 5 pounds and sometimes larger, along with some flathead catfish in the mix as well.
He said shallow, shaded areas that had logs or timber laying on the bottom were the top catfish catching spots this time of year. He targets catfish using a #2 circle hook on braided line, using either whole nightcrawlers or cut shad for bait.
“The new Silver Cat Elite Light rods are the best channel catfishing rods I’ve ever used,” said Blakley. “These rods have all the features of the bigger Silver Cat rods in a light action rod that makes catching channel cats a whole bunch of fun.”
He rigs either the shad, which he catches locally in a cast net, or the night crawler under a slip cork and tosses the rig out in a shallow log-infested area. The catfish will often show a preference for one bait over the other depending on the day.
Early starts, plenty of liquids, light clothing, and coolers of fish is the forecast for Bluebank Resort fishing guide Billy Blakley this month.
When that cork goes down, the fight is on and it doesn’t take long to get a mess of catfish in the boat if you’re in the right area.
The summertime pattern for crappie fishing is in full swing with nice sized crappie relating to bottom structure such as stumps or other submerged wood out in the deeper parts of the lake in 12 – 14 feet of water.
Using his forward-facing, real-time sonar unit, Blakley will wait just a little late in the day to chase crappie. He said once the sun gets above the tree line, crappie will rise up out of the stumps and submerged timber where he can see them better on the graph.
After that, it’s pick out the one you want to flip to and start letting the jigs fly.
“This new 16-foot B’n’M Black Diamond rod is great for this kind of fishing,” he said. “I think it’s got better balance that a lot of rods and it’s definitely got some backbone and the reach you need to put that jig in front of a crappie when you’re Livescoping.”
Blakley’s favorite bait for flipping to crappie during the summer is a 1/8 oz pink Crappie Magnet jig head with a pink and black split-tail Crappie Magnet bait.
Blakley did suggest that anglers get an early start and dress in light clothing to avoid the heat as much as possible. The great news is with the water heating up, when fish got active, it usually doesn’t take long to fill a limit or do a lot of pole bending.
Wherever fishing takes you, B’n’M has been there. Visit our website at bnmpoles.com
To book a guided fishing trip with Billy Blakley, contact him through Blue Bank Resort, located in Hornbeak, Tennessee at (877) 258-3226 or visit their website at bluebankresort.com