Michael Hayes greeted me as I arrived on a hot, humid and sunny afternoon in the far northwest corner of Tennessee. He is a restaurateur and resort proprietor of Blue Bank Resort (www.BlueBankResort.com), a full service resort on ReelfootLake. The tall cypress trees provide a beautiful landscape to the lake. They also conceal the various cabins and resorts along a small portion of the lake.
Nestled in the cypress is Blue Bank Resort from which we watch the sun setting over the water. In the morning from the water side, the trees conceal the location of the marina as we move out for a day of crappie fishing.
Michael’s family occupies a unique place in the history of the lake. They have guided and hosted fishermen and hunters almost from day one. A series of earthquakes in December and January of 1812 gave birth to the lake. The quakes caused the land to fall up to 20 feet below the nearby Mississippi River. The river actually flowed backward to fill the void.
George Hayes, a local entrepreneur with a grain mill and a passion for hunting and fishing founded the dynasty that would become Blue Bank Resort. Michael is a direct descendant of Hayes.
Through the years, various members of the family have created parts of the operation. The boat dock was the first. A hotel was built and upgraded over the first 30 years of the 20th century. The restaurant, originally housed at the old mill site, moved to the resort location in 2010. Now the combination is a prime location for individuals and families to enjoy the only full service resort on the lake with all of its creature comforts.
The shallow waters are full of standing and fallen cypress trees. Some are remnants of the earthquake. The nutrient rich waters house largemouth bass catfish, bream (bluegills), crappie, carp, Asian carp, gar and common carp. The lake is one of the world’s great natural fish hatcheries.
Tomorrow we sample the fishing.