Reelfoot Lake Crappies


Reelfoot Lake is a premier crappie fishing destination and has been for many years. How could I refuse an invite to the On the Hook TV show media camp? As an outdoor writer, I’m fortunate that, through my writing and photography, I can hang out in such a great place with great people who are also some of the best crappie anglers in the country. So, even though I would normally be up a tree someplace hunting deer, the opportunity to spend a few days at Blue Bank Resort on Reelfoot Lake and learn a little more about crappie fishing was too good to pass up.

Seeing a small buck chasing some does in my backyard as I pulled out of my driveway didn’t make things any easier, but I was looking forward to the trip. The deer could wait.

Fishing with a record breaker

The first morning on Reelfoot Lake, I was paired with one of the best. Brett Luther is a crappie tournament angler. Brett told me about fishing tournaments with his dad Robert and how great it was to spend time together doing what they love. Team Luther brought in a 4.26-pound monster crappie on Grenada Lake, breaking the record for the biggest fish ever weighed at a Crappie Masters tournament. So, when Brett talked, I listened. Our conversation was also about our daughters who love to play softball, but when Brett spotted a big crappie on Livescope, the conversation stopped.

Reelfoot Lake is full of standing timber, and I overheard someone say at breakfast that there wasn’t any need for waypoints on Reelfoot. This is because there are so many trees still standing under the water’s surface, that you only need to find one with a crappie on it. Even if you catch that crappie, you can circle back to it later, and oftentimes there’s another big crappie there waiting for your jig.

Brett found a good-sized crappie suspended a few feet off bottom. These crappies are usually more willing to bite. Brett worked his small jig into position to entice the big crappie into biting. As the small hair jig slowly entered the strike zone, the jig brushed against the tree. In the process of lifting his jig to get it around the tree and to the crappie, Brett felt it rub the side of the tree. The crappie spooked, and Brett knew exactly why. He told me that the sound of the bait dragging across the wood wasn’t natural, and the crappie knew something wasn’t right.

“Don’t let your bait hit the tree,” was all Brett needed to say. I filed that away into my don’ts list of fishing standing timber as we moved away to find another crappie. Brett ended up catching several nice crappies on those standing trees and taught me a valuable lesson as well.


Perfecting the POP

My next trip out was with Jeremy Mattingly, host of On the Hook TV show. Jeremy has moved into the crappie world in stride. Aside from creating his TV show, he is part owner of the National Crappie League tournament trail that offers a tournament for any level of crappie angler out there. Check it out at Jeremy also has a line of landing nets for crappie fishing as well as some great plastic baits for catching crappies.

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It wasn’t long with Jeremy until I learned a great tip that he has perfected, and he aptly calls Perfecting the POP. Often, this trip no exception, crappies will develop a little lockjaw.

When crappies refuse to eat, crappie anglers have a few tricks up their sleeves. Some might tip their jig with a minnow when the crappie refuses their jig. Others will change colors of their jigs to see if that works. Jeremy introduced me to his Perfecting the POP technique for getting more bites.

Finicky crappies sometimes snub their noses at about any presentation. The crappies were about half and half on this trip. Some came enthusiastically to the presentation and wasted no time engulfing the jig when properly presented. For those crappies unwilling to play, Jeremy had a little something for them. Presenting your jig or minnow just above the crappie’s nose is usually enough. However, when they act like a jig is the last thing on their minds, Jeremy would pop his rod to impart a slight twitch in the bait.

The POP that Jeremy uses is a little different and works wonders on lethargic and less-cooperative crappies after a cold front or maybe too much pressure. The POP is introduced with a quick snap of the rod. This quick snap imparts a noticeable bounce in the rod, but by the time it works its way to the jig or minnow, it only causes a subtle twitch in the bait, leaving the bait in place but causing enough of a twitch to entice a bite and get a tough crappie on the hook. Perfecting the POP is a great way to simulate a nervous twitch in the bait, and as I saw on the boat with Jeremy, can get that crappie to bite when it obviously wasn’t going to. Try this on your next trip and see if you can get a few more bites.

Adding a little scent

If none of the tricks up your sleeve are working, there’s one more tip for a tough bite: scent. When I see people gathering around the front of their boat whispering and snapping photos, I always investigate. At these media camps, there’s often a new product that hasn’t been released yet, usually being tested by these great anglers. This media camp was no different, and I found out about a new scent that Brad Chandler is testing before putting it on the market. It is a scent-infused ball that stays on the hook very well, enticing many reluctant crappies to investigate and eat your presentation.

The scent balls by EZ Drift Trolling Systems are easily deployed using the EZ Drift Bait Pen. Sent balls load easily into the pen that you can hang around your neck or within easy reach of your position. Using the slider incorporated into the pen, you can hook the scent ball on your hook, then slide the loaded balls forward, ready for your next encounter. The buzz around the boat ramp was super positive about the new scent balls, and I saw it work firsthand while fishing with Jeremy.


Great media camp

The On the Hook media camp was a hit and as fun as it gets. The lessons learned will last a lifetime, and there’s no better place to do it than Reelfoot Lake. Our stay was exceptional due to Blue Bank Resort’s facilities and hospitality. Blue Bank Resort offers everything needed in a fishing destination and then some. There are things to do for the whole family. Whether you are a hard-core angler or just like to add fishing as a part of a wonderful vacation, Blue Bank Resort will not disappoint. Check out all the great things that Blue Bank Resort and the area around the lake has to offer at