Categorized | Opinion

Wet Weather Slows Bite

By Josh Gowan

Billy Blakely, head guide at BlueBank Resort on Reelfoot Lake and Connor Hutcherson pose with a couple of big blue gill.

Billy Blakely, head guide at BlueBank Resort on Reelfoot Lake and Connor Hutcherson pose with a couple of big blue gill.

Well, it’s not so much the fish that are being slowed down by the rain, but the fishermen! It certainly isn’t news that it’s been a wet June so far, and while I hope our farmers get all the rain they need, personally I’ve had enough for a while. My grass is growing so fast it looks like my house is shrinking!
I have no personal report this week, and while erecting a pool, tilling a garden (finally), and doing enough yardwork to make the neighbors question if my wife had traded me in for a botanist certainly produced a few stories worth telling, they don’t pay me the big bucks for my lawn and garden expertise, on to the fish!
Reelfoot’s late bloom this year is still rolling, and I talked to a few of my friends at the lake who caught some good fish.
The ticket was to shallow up and spider-rig over the top of the stumps. The numbers weren’t outstanding, but the size of the crappie was.
There are still black crappie waded up in areas if you can find them, and hopefully Father’s Day finds me right on top of them! Louie Mansfield, who quite literally wrote the book on bream (blue gill) fishing at Reelfoot, caught a good mess of huge gills jigging a 1/80 oz. Grizzly tipped with a waxworm around trees. Billy Blakely is still putting clients on big bream, and will be for the next month or so. If you’re interested in booking a guided blue gill trip at the lake, call BlueBank Resort at (877) 258-3226.
As usual, the catfishing is wide open. Steve Atwill was over in the middle of the week floating Black Swans, a very cool, unique type of jug that was designed and built in Kennett, Mo by none other than Mr. Charlie Hilburn. You really have to see these in action to fully understand their name, but they are essentially a circle of black pvc, with an arm going up into the middle, and a yo-yo hanging from it.
From a distance they literally look like a group of black swans floating across the water. Steve was using shrimp as bait, and caught 12 catfish in just a few hours before the wind blew him off the lake. You can check them out
The best fishing in our area however, has been on that tiny, trickling stream that separates Missouri from Tennessee! The huge, blue catfish on the mighty Mississippi River are gorging themselves right now, and the guys that know how to catch them are hammering them.
One of my fishing buddies from East Prairie, Mo has been piling up the big blues lately. Justin Berry, who you saw along with Hunter Jones last week if your newspaper runs the picture that accompanies this article (if not, go to to see what I’m talking about) is on ‘em, and here’s how he’s doing it.
Justin says the river is at a good level right now, and drift fishing and bottom bouncing is the key. He’s using freshly caught skipjack and moon-eye and having a lot of success. The fish are scattered, but there are a lot of them, starting from 30 feet down. The bigger fish, according to Berry, are holding up in 40-50 foot depths, and drifting slowly in the right place with the right bait and at the right depth, results in your rods slamming down!
He’s using 8/0-10/0 circle hooks on 50 pound monofilament leaders tied to a 3-way swivel, with a 6 ounce sinker if he’s drifting or a 4-5 ounce if he’s bumping the bottom. The main line is 100 pound braid on Abu Garcia Ambassador Alphamar 12 on a 7 foot Team Catfish Warrior Rod.
Kentucky Lake is turning out big stringers as well. The bass are hitting on big crankbaits, big creature baits, and 10 inch worms on a Carolina Rig. The crappie are piling up on stake beds in 10-12 feet of water, as well as being caught long-lining and pulling crankbaits over main ledges.
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine,

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June 2014
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