Reelfoot Lake, the “Quake Lake!”
A place that will make you feel you’ve gone back in time… to a place shrouded in dark secrecy and magic!
This is one of the most unique Photo ShareShops venues that could be imagined. It’s a very shallow, mysterious, yet picturesque lake with incredible fishing, hunting and photography opportunities.
Much of the lake is really more in the character of a Louisiana swamp (without the gators,) with bayou-like ditches (some natural, some dredged periodically) that connect more open open areas of water called basins… the largest wonderful one known as Blue Basin.
Reelfoot Lake is world renown for its completely amazing wildly shaped bald cypress trees and knees… and its large number of permanent resident, nesting Bald Eagles. Many other amazing birds populate this lake, some of them seasonally. Cormorants, Ospreys, Pelicans, Herons, Egrets and of course, ducks by the thousands. Reelfoot is noted both for its amazing fishing and for its duck hunting (and Photo Ops!) It is home as well to other critters, including otters, deer, turtles and yes, snakes.
Early morning on Reelfoot lake, when the mist is on the lake, is something primeval… something that is so very special and mysterious. With the deep hued and amazingly shaped cypress, the huge tangle of eagle and osprey nests, the distant sounds of all species of birds waking… this is so magical and so sensory overload at its most intense and beautiful.
Reelfoot Lake formed in 1811-1812 during a series of tumultuous earthquakes called the New Madrid Earthquakes. The earthquakes resulted in the Mississippi River flowing backwards into low lying and reshaped areas, creating a shallow and weirdly wonderful tree filled lake. The earthquakes were so strong that shocks were felt as far away as Quebec, Canada. Legend has it that the area was home to a tribe of the Native American Chickasaw. Chief Reelfoot of the tribe angered the Great Spirit, who stomped his foot and caused he and his tribe (and his bride… read the story!) to die in the floods from the river raging over his village.
Reelfoot also has a dark history… the “Night Riders,” folks that didn’t like the way Reelfoot was being bought up, and were willing even to kill to defend their way of life, and property.
Reelfoot has no real river tributaries. Reelfoot is mainly rain fed and is one of the very few natural lakes in Tennessee. In calm weather conditions, Reelfoot is a very flat and very docile lake. This makes photography from a boat perfect, easier than on any other body of water, anywhere. HOWEVER, if the wind gets “up,” it can get very rough, very fast, and very easily due to the shallowness of the lake. Reelfoot covers something like 13,000 acres and the average depth of the lake is only 5.2 feet. The very deepest the lake gets is only 18 feet.
Much of the lake is three feet deep or less, and is punctuated by cypress knees just below the surface, waiting for an unsuspecting boat, or providing a perch for a feeding heron or egret.
One could spend a lifetime shooting unique places, and never find a wonderful, mysterious, and sublimely light filled place like…
Lodging and group meals will be at the Blue Bank Resort. This wonderful facility is the perfect lakeside spot for our Friday night cookout and “Reelfoot Storytelling.” Take a look at Blue Bank! The address is 813 Lake Dr, Hornbeak, TN 38232.
Friday night features a cookout (included in registration, beverage extra) on the banks of the Reelfoot at Blue Bank Resort. Breakfast Saturday and Sunday is included. There are numerous restaurants in the area, but we hope folks will join us in the evening at Blue Bank’s Fish House Restaurant for a group dinner where we talk about the “Shot that got away!” The restaurant offers a delicious menu and has a full bar!
Blue Bank also has a large swimming pool, a 12 person hot tub, a private marina, tables and chairs right at lakes edge and more. Be sure to take in the butterfly garden that is home to 1000s of migrating Monarch butterflies in season.
In the Area:
There are several other lakes and nature preserves in the immediate area such as Lake Isom. Within an hours drive are Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake with the “Land Between the Lakes” (LBL) preserve areas. If you are adding a day or two LBL is amazing and has elk and buffalo in a large preserve area. Many camping areas, off road vehicle trails, hiking trails and fishing opportunities are at LBL.
The Mississippi River is only three miles from Reelfoot. The Discovery Park of America is about 15 miles from Reelfoot.
Reelfoot lake is home to many animal and reptile species, some of which are hazardous, specifically including venomous snakes. Large Asian Carp, an invasive species, often jump many feet into the air when approached by a boat. These carp have been know to strike boaters causing injury. The insects, depending on the time of year, can be very more than just annoying as well. Please understand these risks as well as those of being in a boat on a lake with MANY shallow submersed hazards (the Cypress knees.)
Reelfoot is in extreme north west Tennessee (with some of it actually in Kentucky) It is near the small cities of Tiptonville and Union City. The pontoon boat excursions and shoots leave from the State Park as noted on the map. The backcountry excursions leave from Samburg TN, a short drive from either the State Park or from Blue Banks Resort. A map will be provided at the Meet and Greet on Friday.