Reelfoot Lake is a shallow natural lake located in the northwest portion of Tennessee, United States of America. Much of it is really more of a swamp, with bayou-like ditches (some natural, some man-made) connecting more open bodies of water called basins, the largest of which is called Blue Basin. Reelfoot Lake is noted for its bald cypress trees and its nesting pairs of bald eagles. It is the site of Reelfoot Lake State Park. Lake Isom, a similar, smaller lake to the immediate south, is a National Wildlife Refuge area.
According to the United States Geological Survey, Reelfoot Lake was formed when the region subsided during the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811–1812. Several eyewitnessesreported that the Mississippi River flowed backward for 10–24 hours to fill the lake. The earthquakes resulted in several major changes in the landforms over a widespread area with shocks being felt as far away as Quebec.
Reelfoot is the only large natural lake in Tennessee, and gives its name to Lake County, Tennessee, in which it is located. Until 2003,Reelfoot was the world’s only legal commercial fishery for crappie, a species of sunfish, which was served in restaurants near the shore. The area is popular for recreational boating and fishing.
February, March, April and May are the peak months to visit Reelfoot, but the fishing is also outstanding during the fall, with just a fraction of the fishing pressure. Late-September through December is absolutely a great time to target slabs away from the hordes of boats.