John’s Note: The origins of Blue Bank Resort in Hornbeak, Tennessee, near Tiptonville (www.bluebankresort.com, http://www.facebook.com/blueBankResort, 877-258-3226) started in the early 1900s when today’s owner’s grandmother, Kohoma Hayes, owned and operated the Reelfoot Hotel. Through the years the motel, the restaurant and the guiding business have gone through several transitions, but always with the Hayes family still owning Blue Bank Resort. Then newly-renovated motel also features a 13-man hot tub and a big swimming pool, besides a restaurant featuring delicious food that draws customers from miles around. Blue Bank Resort offers guides for all types of fishing and duck and goose hunting, as well as eagle viewing.
If you enjoy fishing, you know that the first 45 minutes in the predawn before the sun comes up is almost a sacred time for bass fishing.
But bass fishing can be one of the most-boring activities for a youngster going on a fishing trip with his dad or granddad. But not when Billy Blakely, the master guide at Blue Bank Resort, is along. He said. “Come up here, Conner. I’m going to rig you up a trick worm. You’ll probably catch a bigger bass than me or your granddad. Last week I had a little fellow younger than you on the front end of the boat with me. I was flipping and pitching a pig and jig, and he was casting a trick worm in front of me. Suddenly, his line went tight, his rod bent, and the drag on his reel squealed. He got this big ole bass to the side of the boat. I used my dip net to dip up this bass that weighed 6-1/2-pounds. If you’ll fish this trick worm like I show you how to fish it, there’s a good chance you can catch one of those big bass too.” So, for about the first 10 or 15 minutes, Conner listened to Blakely’s instructions. He cast, retrieved, twitched and wound the trick worm without any results. Blakely caught two bass. Then I caught one flipping and pitching a jig next to cypress trees and lily pads.
Finally, I got a hard, solid strike. “Come here, Conner,” I said. Conner came running to the back of the boat. I put the rod in his hand. The tip of the rod dove to touch the water, as 13 year-old Conner reared back like a veteran angler. “Keep your eye tip up,” Blakely coached. He came down to help Conner hold the rod. I said, “Reel, reel, reel.” I was cheering and coaching at the same time, as the bass gave way to the young strong muscles of Conner Hudson. But just as the bass was about to come alongside of the boat, it broke free, and the line went limp. “That’s okay son,” Blakely told Conner. “You got him right to the boat. You won the battle. We just didn’t have to unhook him.” Then Conner’s frown of disappointment gave way to the smile of success.
Really and truly that’s what fishing is all about – being able to win even when you lose, which makes fishing with children more fun for everyone. Since we were catching and releasing all the bass that took our baits, Blakely had a very-valid point. We didn’t have to waste time unhooking the bass and throwing it back in the water. Conner fought the fish and brought it to the side of the boat, but then the fish came unhooked. However, a few minutes later, when Blakely caught a bass about the same size as Conner’s fish, we let Conner hold the bass and took his picture with the fish. Then he could show everyone the size of bass he had caught that had gotten free right at the edge of the boat. Speaking of picture taking, that’s one of the most important parts of the trip not only for the youngster but for the adults also.
This fishing trip was the first one that Conner had come on with just me – our first great adventure together by ourselves. I know it will be the first of many. When I took my grandson fishing, I reconnected to the days when I fished with my dad. Also, I could see through my father’s eyes that the real fun of fishing is teaching your family and friends how much fun fishing can be.
I really enjoyed watching Billy Blakely teach Conner and photographing most of what happened. I was preserving the memory for both of us, for everyone in the family and for everyone both of us knew. I was constantly uploading pictures to Facebook.
For a print version of “Reelfoot Lake: How to Fish for Crappie, Bass, Bluegills and Catfish & Hunt for Ducks” go to www.bluebankresort.com, or call 877-258-3226.
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About the Author
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.