reelfoot lake tennessee


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Boating on Reelfoot

 We receive countless emails asking about boating regulations on Reelfoot. While there aren't actually any restrictions, there are a few things that anyone should know before heading out on this stump filled lake.

 First of all....GO SLOW! Almost 200 years later, Reelfoot is still filled with stumps from the famous earthquake. A few boat roads and other areas are void of stumps, but not many. There is no reason to wonder if your are going to hit stumps in your boat, it's a question of how many and when.

 If you've ever spent a warm spring day on Reelfoot, you've inevitably heard the racing of a motor that was kicked out of the water, by someone who thought they had it figured out. It's tempting after a while of stump free travel to kick it up just a notch. But if you do, we'll hear you out there too, when you meet these underwater monsters. Actually, it is kind of amusing to the rest of us, especially on days when the fishing is slow.

 You would think that these stumps would have kind of softened over the years. Maybe some have, but not the ones I've encountered. They are solid as a rock.

 The most common boat used on the lake these days is the jon boat with a motor that kicks up to reduce the impact of stumps. But, bass boats with tilt and trim, that do not give, can and are used all the time. Once again, the key is to go slow. Hitting stumps even at a slow speed will give you a jar. So, just keep them in mind at all times. Don't be standing up while riding, unless you want to take a swim and needless to say...WEAR YOUR LIFEJACKET.

 While a jolt or even a spill in warm water can ruin a good day, a spill in the cold winter water can, and does, take lives. Make sure and have the rope to your kill switch around your hand at all times during the winter. Take it from someone who didn't, it only takes a second when you pop one of those stumps.

 The last, but not least, thing to factor in is the wind. As with any lake, don't be too far across open water when a storm is brewing. When the wind blows, the main lake can get very rough. If you come down off one of those waves on top of a slightly submerged stump, it can get a little hairy. You can usually watch the other boats to get an idea of how bad it's getting out there. It's a bad feeling once you see you're the only one left.  I've always thought it was weird how the fish start biting about the time that the storm comes in. Don't fall for it. Those fish will be there when the storm blows over, but you may not.

 Lake levels also play an important role. When the lake is at pool level, you won't hit near as many stumps as when the water is down a foot or two.

 I know this all sounds scary and maybe I overdid it a little. I just want first time visitors to know that they should be careful out there. If you just GO SLOW, WEAR YOUR LIFEJACKET and don't let high winds catch you on the other side of the lake, you'll be fine. And remember, if all the stumps were gone, the fishing wouldn't be near as good.



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