Reelfoot Cast ‘n Blast with Billy Blakley
By Phillip Gentry
Ask any outdoorsman who has had the privilege of visiting Reelfoot Lake in western Tennessee to vote on which is more fun and exciting, fishing in the fertile waters of the lake or hunting the flocks of ducks that pass through the area, and you’re likely to get a contest too close to call.
Head over to Blue Bank Resort, a full-service resort on Reelfoot Lake and you’ll find B’n’M pro-staffer Billy Blakley, who’s both a fishing guide and duck hunting guide. Ask him the same question and you’ll get the ultimate response.
“I love’em both,” says Blakley.
What’s even better is that from September 11 – September 19, visitors to Reelfoot can enjoy the best of both worlds in the same day as early teal season comes in at the same time as some great late summer crappie fishing. It’s what Blakley refers to as Cast ‘n Blast season.
“The first 5 days of the season we can hunt wood ducks and teal and then the last 4 days of the season is teal only,” said Blakley. “After we get our limit, then we get on the water and go crappie fishing.”
A limit of ducks and a limit of crappie is a rare treat for Reelfoot visitors.
Blakley reported that he’s already seeing some flocks of teal moving south around Reelfoot and hopes it’s going to be another great early teal season. He’s on the water every day and watches for birds to start making their early migrations.
“All we need is a little cold front, it don’t take much,” he said, “and those birds will start flocking in here.”
Blakley’s tactics for teal hunting don’t vary greatly from early season to the regular winter duck hunting season except he’ll be wearing short sleeves instead of a heavy jacket. He’ll place 5 or 6 robo-decoys and some splashing decoys in his spread of 150 decoys and let the birds come to him.
B’n’M has got Blakley and other Reelfoot anglers covered with great crappie and catfish gear, but we also have a little something for duck hunters that make stowing and deploying decoys much easier. They’re called Ace Decoy Anchors.
Ace Decoy Anchors, another great product offered by B’n’M, allows ducks hunters to store duck decoys tangle free.
Ace Decoy Anchors are the fastest, easiest way to put out and take up decoys. Along with eliminating tangled lines, Ace Decoy Anchors save time and prevent decoy paint wear and chipping when bagged.
Numerous unsolicited testimonials and editorials from U.S. and Canadian duck hunters and hunting journals have rated Ace Decoy Anchors as the best tangle-free anchors on the market today.
“I really like them,” said Blakley. “A lot of people think B’n’M is only in the fishing business, but these anchors are a great way to store your decoys without making a big mess.”
After the hunt is over, Blakley said he’ll head out to some of the lake’s deeper water areas with 14 – 15-foot depths to catch crappie. He lets the wind dictate what tactic he’ll be using.
September 9 – 11 is the early wood duck/teal season on Reelfoot Lake.
“If the water is real calm, we’ll load up the trolling poles and go spider rigging in the deep water stumps fields,” he said.
Spider rigging, also known as slow trolling, was born on Reelfoot and still accounts for a large number of crappie caught from the lake today. Blakley uses double hook minnow rigs on each pole and will ease around submerged timber placing baits at different depths and watching his sonar unit and his rod tips for fish to show up.
His preferred rod for spider rigging is a Buck’s Graphite Jig Pole. He’ll place each rod in a rod holder and bump around the flats using his trolling motor. He prefers calmer days for spider rigging so the baits aren’t bouncing up and down with wave action.
On days when the wind is blowing harder than he likes, he forgoes trolling poles and uses a single B’n’M Brushcutter jig pole to catch crappie.
“If it’s a little windy, I’ll cut the Livescope on and we’ll go look for fish running from stump to stump,” he said. “This time of year, crappie can’t hardly resist a small live minnow and I’ll rig each line with a number 5 split shot and a number 1 light wire hook.”
As simple as it sounds, when a fish shows up on the Livescope screen, he simply lowers the bait down right over the top of the fish.
“They can’t stand that,” said Blakley. “That minnow swimming around on a light wire hook is too much and they’ll grab it pretty quick.”
Wherever fishing takes you, B’n’M has been there. Visit our website at bnmpoles.com
To book a crappie fishing, duck hunting, or Cast ‘n Blast 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