Reelfoot Lake is a flooded forest - full of submerged cypress stumps. While boating on Reelfoot , expect to hit some of the stumps. You will be okay unless you are running at full throttle. People boat on this lake using 40 horsepower motors and up, but they go slow, no water skiing or jet skiing is done on Reelfoot Lake. Canoes can be used on Reelfoot Lake. Jon boats are used the most.
Tennessee Boating Regulations
Fishing is available year round. Bass, Crappie, Bream, and Catfish are most popular species sought. Appropriate Tennessee license and lake permit required. Some fish cleaning stations are available. Private bait and boat rental concessions nearby. Piers, boardwalks, and bank fishing are available.
Crappie fishing is best toward the end of March through the first part of May. Crappie activity will slow down during the hot summer months and will increase again around October when the water temperature cools. Fishing for Crappie can be good throughout the winter. Bream and Bluegill fishing usually starts getting active around late April and will continue through early July. Bluegill become active again in September. Largemouth Bass fishing is good from March through late October. Yellow Bass or Striped Jack as the locals call them are the most active fish from July through September. Catfishing is done during the spring and summer months using conventional tackle, yo-yos, limb lines and trot lines. A valid Tennessee Fishing License is required of all anglers over 13 years of age. A lake permit is also required of anglers over age 16.
Tennessee Fishing Regulations
Reelfoot Lake State Park has three hiking trails that are very popular and an auto tour that circles the lake. The Airpark Trail
is a 45 minute walk through old cypress forest and second growth vegetation. The Keystone Trail
winds along the shoreline of Reelfoot Lake for 1.5 miles and is the only lakeshore trail. The Black Bayou Trail
goes along the old bayou for approximately 2 miles and is an excellent bird watching and wildlife observation walk. The Auto Tour
visits 12 points of interest and circles Reelfoot Lake.
Reelfoot Lake State Park’s R.C. Donaldson Memorial Museum features natural and cultural exhibits of the area, audio visual programs, and a cypress boardwalk. The museum is open year-round except for the Christmas holiday period. Admission is free. HOURS: 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM. Call (731) 253-9652 for information.
A part of Reelfoot Lake State Park’s R.C. Donaldson Memorial Museum, the nature center, houses various non-releasable raptors, some snakes, and other wildlife of the area. Open year-round except for the Christmas holiday period. Admission is free.
Reelfoot offers visitors approximately 200 picnic sites located within several areas of the park. Most of the sites have grills. Five large picnic pavilions for group use and six smaller two table shelters are available. All sites and pavilions are adjacent to drinking water, and public restrooms. Most picnic sites are near playgrounds and fishing piers. All sites are available on a first-come first-serve basis. Large pavilions can accommodate groups of 50 to 120, offer grills, tables, and electricity, and may be reserved for a nominal fee by call 1-800-250-8617
Bald Eagle and Waterfowl Tours:
During the winter months Reelfoot Lake is home to approximately 200 American Bald Eagles and spectacular numbers of waterfowl. Experienced park naturalists lead daily bald eagle and waterfowl bus tours from early January through early March. Eagles can be seen perching, flying or soaring, and snatching a fish or waterfowl from the lake. Telescopes for viewing and intriguing information about the natural and cultural history of the wildlife and area are provided. Programs by invited guest speakers or park staff are offered every Saturday night during the winter eagle season. These programs cover a wide variety of themes such as bald eagles, Reelfoot Lake, photography, history, other interesting topics, and live birds of prey demonstrations. Live birds of prey exhibits offer visitors an opportunity to view up close these magnificent creatures and to learn of their importance in nature. Bald Eagle and Waterfowl Tours reservations are required and can be made by calling the Airpark Inn at 1-800-250-8617 or 1-731-253-7756. Programs reservations for groups can be scheduled by calling the park visitor center staff at 1-731-253-9652.
Pontoon Boat Cruises: Reelfoot Lake State Park offers naturalist guided pontoon boat cruises from May through September. These excursions allow visitors to experience the beauty and natural wonder of Reelfoot Lake and to learn about this truly unique area. Three hour cruises depart daily at 9:00 AM and short cruises are offered on weekends and holiday afternoons. The sun setting or full moon rising through the cypress trees on Reelfoot Lake is an awesome sight. Sunset cruises are offered several times per month and moon light cruises are offered during full moon phases. Special cruises can be scheduled for groups. Reservations are required and can be made by calling the park’s visitor center at 1-731-253-9652.
Bald Eagle and Waterfowl Tours, January through early March
Scenic Boat tours, May through September
Round House Reunion – 50’s and 60’s Musical Event, 3rd Sunday in September
Arts and Crafts Festival, 1st weekend in October
Swimming is not an activity that takes place in Reelfoot Lake. Reelfoot Lake State Park provides a swimming pool and wading pool at the Airpark Inn for motel guests and overnight campers only. The pool opens Memorial Day through Labor Day. No lifeguard on duty.