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Reel Foot Lake Adventure - The Rendezvous

Conditions were horrible from mid-day on. LOFR-BR nailed it.

In hot, hot weather - this place is a puzzle, wrapped in a mystery but the fish are there because it is jurassic!!!!

Adventure 

I took a stump in the rump on the way out (while it was described to me- I wasn't really hearing that we would be banging off stumps in the front, middle and motor). I nearly jumped out of my skin right after the stump hit when a 25 lb. -  fish jumped up about 3 foot from me to my back and then smashed down in the water like a cannon shot, dropping spray over the bow where I was sitting. I peed a little...

 

White caps off to the left coming all the way across the lake and sending current into the canal spillway we were fishing gave a few fish the wake-up call. No matter where you fish, this can happen and 2 days can be bad with one day good - that is fishing. We never really got to the really good but I know this lake is magical. 

I got to see it all while I was there - giant jumping fish (still need to catch one in a net), boat-bumping travel across fields of submerged stumps and a really swampy-look'n cyrpess paradise along with some of the best Southern hospitality you could imagine. I am still full from all the food that LOFR-BR (Lord of the Fly Rods & BBQ Ribs) prepared for us before the trip started and during the trip!!! The members that shared their passion for fishing, lots of stories and even a tackle-swap you could find no where on the planet, this was a really great time. Adventure!

Fishing Reel Foot in Slow Bite

Reel Foot has a lot more to offer so we will have to visit it when the temperatures haven't reached 100 or when they have started down in the 60's because it should offer up monsters on structure consistently. I didn't set a personal best there for fish, but I did for BBG.com adventures.

I think I cracked a little bit of the code late on the last night - and I caught one hump-head mixed with 8 cats or so. I had a Green sunfish earlier so I got to see them.

These fish were literally on lock-down. They were deep in the base of those stumps and not coming out. We switched sides of the lake for the evening and the temperature came down 15 degrees, wind-whipped shores on the South end got the fish going a bit. This is where the spillway was.

We should rotate back on this lake during a slightly better fishing period (later September, early October or in Spring) because I know this lake has beast fish hidden in it. In order to fish this you have to snag up on cypress root - if you aren't snag'n - you aint catch'n.  That said, I did have some success with chumming the fish to bring them up a bit. This is tricky business because if you do it wrong- you will actually drive the fish deeper down into these roots (rooty fish cribs). If you do it correctly - you can put some interest above the roots and get the fish to slowly come up to the root edge and strike.

Tackle Down

This would have to be done anchoring at each stump this time of year with the most delicate gear you can use. I picked up on some local posts where they were talking about going to 1/80 oz. jigs and, I think a 1/1,000th ounce hook was the way to go. I had a chance to fish my prototype hooks and they held on some small and  medium-sized channel cats- I didn't get a hook to straighten up. I had one hook pull out early, but I think I only got a tiny piece of lip on that fish (guessed it was a bullhead from the fight). The hook points didn't dull too fast, of course, I caught as many cypress stumps as I did fish so the hook got a little work-out. We can do better on a mission hooking a volume of gills to test these hook points but early returns are that they are very good. 

Float Rigs

Where I fished that evening, I was able to do two things that I couldn't on the boat. I used the tree I fished to hold the rod tip in place. This kept the bait still down below - despite some good surface current. If you are not controlling your float by holding back on the pole tip or float tip (I used both a rod and a telescopic pole the same. Using the longer rod 10' with a spinning reel, I was able to hold onto some bigger fish). I did land a small 2 lb. cat on the telescopic pole. The extended pole lengths gave me enough reach to get to the outside of the tree trunk where I could hold the hook bait in place. If the hook bait is still below- the fish can easily "sip it in" - see the video on my page. If the hook is moving and the fish are in a funky mood- they won't chase.

Chum + Loose-Feed - Draw Them Out

One, I was able to feed a small area with a very, very little bit of loose grub and tiny amounts of ground bait. The ground bait was imported and was cut down to simulate how I normally fish. Imported ground baits are very rich! Too rich for our fish. Exotic flavors are not needed. I add some crumbs to the bait to both cut down on my cost (crumb is 1/4 the price of some ground baits) My ground bait had freeze-dried grass shrimp and bloodworm in it. The fish really dig this in the water column - it perks them up, gets them moving around and looking instead of just sitting and sulking. The fish activity above the roots then attracts the fish to look and move closer.  Note that I was catching channel cats about 8" off the bottom. I was going for bream - but I am not picky when a chunky cat is going to take my hook bait. Eventually I did draw a hump-head gill out of the cover so - they were in there. Now I think back at all the stumps I could have chummed when I was there!!

Return to Reel Foot

Well, I can go visit them again because they have been there for several hundred years. I will again pack fresh grubs and try to really crack the code of Reel Foot Lake. With another day and some good weather, I think we could have seen some more gills and more cats. Keith had put out a bunch of jugs - really cool foam jug lines he made and the fish were just picking at the hook bait. We didn't get a single bite to stick on those lines. This was telling as to how little the fish were feeding and how light the bite was under the conditions. The lake had several weeks of high 90's so these fish were sulking and melting in that water. A front came through very late in the day and actual cool winds started changing the game. This happens on trips. My next trip I will plan three days on the water to make sure I get one real good day and hopefully a chunk of time on the other two days.

Reel Foot- you have not beaten us, we are plotting and rigging. A plan is forming.

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Comment by jim cosgrove on September 10, 2014 at 1:46pm

wow LOFR now we know your not just a opossum cuddling backwoods mountain man.i have read for hours on line about reelfoot and the quakes.also about tecumsah and his prophecies and his ties to the great lakes indians and those of the illinois river valley.somevery interesting stuff and not that long ago.do you have any of those sand blows in your area?lots of written accounts by people who lived thru the quakes.

Comment by John Sheehan on September 10, 2014 at 1:29pm

It was a pleasure reading this account .Great adventure men !

Comment by Tony Livingston on September 10, 2014 at 12:18pm

It sounds like you guys gave it a pretty thorough going over.......nice job! It's easy for one to sit back and tell of all the things they would've done differently had they been there, I know I'm guilty of giving it some thought while reading through this thread, but the fact is they weren't there, and neither was I....and the ones who were there give it their best shot under far less than optimum conditions. I'm sure we've all encountered a tough bite, I darn sure know I have, and it takes perseverance and stubborn dedication to stick with it. I realize it doesn't count for anything, but I'm proud of you guys. You are the embodiment of what makes a great angler, no matter the species.

Comment by Johnny wilkins on September 10, 2014 at 12:01pm

I checked him out LOFR is a tome of information, a scholar and a gentleman! He is a great resource.

He drove his boat right to fish there and we had a solid plan between the two boats. As for the drop shot, we had covered that tactic through various jigs, suspended jigs and even a #14 hook beneath the tiniest float.

Slip-floating the deep water was out  - if we had a Lund deep-v boat - it would have sunk or killed us. Our bodies would be floating in Deep Foot as we tried to fish the deeper water. The hull would have smashed on stumps and we would be in Davey Jones' locker - at which point we could have slip-floated and drop-shotted or just grabbed the big gills by hand.

All this outing did was make me want to fish that lake even more.

Comment by Johnny wilkins on September 10, 2014 at 11:56am

We also used spikes, medusa and hydra - if we had a kitchen sink and a hook big enough, we would have thrown that.

Comment by Slip Sinker on September 10, 2014 at 9:48am

just from an aerial view of the lake adjacent to the Mississippi  river looks like an oxbow especially the northern area "gun arm". thanks for the clarification. being there in person and reading the history i would have easily made that distinction.

that being said i am reading this discussion on the internet.... now my head is spinning! lol

Comment by David, aka, "McScruff" on September 10, 2014 at 8:58am
LOFR - exactly.
Comment by Lord of the Fly , Rods on September 10, 2014 at 8:03am

 Ok , this might help clarify things , an oxbow lake is a lake that was the main channel of a river which  is cut off   of a river when during flooding  events , the  river seeking a a faster way down hill because  of gravity, cutting off the curve thus leaving an oxbow lake alongside a river. This oxbow would still have the main channel of the old river path through it which Reelfoot does not have , it has stumps from one side to the other with no main channel of an old river. Also let think about when it was created , there were no levee systems to contain the Mississippi and during flooding events the Mississippi  at that point it would flood the land on both sides of the river for 20 miles , restocking fish from the river , thats how the river put so many variety's of fish into Reelfoot without ever flowing through it .  LOFR

Comment by Lord of the Fly , Rods on September 10, 2014 at 7:29am

Walt,  what are we disagreeing on? As for asking a historian  , I am one , with 17 years of study  of this area , and I have been accepted  to volunteer  at our new State  Historical Archives, on records and maps that havent been available to the public in years, Also  I have been a member of one of the States Archeological Society ," The Central Mississippi Valley Archeological  Society" for the last 16 years where we have and still do research on the New Madrid Earthquake events,  ie  researching old records and digs in the field for physical evidence of the quake events, plus all this is in my backyard, so trust me when I say  Reelfoot Lake was not an oxbow of the Mississippi. Quote :" You cant believe everything you read on the internet ", signed by Abraham Lincoln.    LOFR

Comment by carl hendrix on September 10, 2014 at 6:45am

how many know of the St. Andreas vault located in California??  did you know; it also stretches from Calif. to the Carolinas!!

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