Reelfoot Lake, TN

The wife and I are thinking about a trip to Reelfoot Lake. Anyone have info about the area? Where to put in, best places to see, where to stay? We are not any set time schedule so if there are other places of interest nearby (paddling or otherwise), I’d like to hear about those as well.


I have absolutely zero paddling information regarding Reelfoot. I have seen boat owners shooting at Cotton Mouth Snakes that were trying to get in their boats in the dark :-o, but I doubt that would be any issue this time of year.

But, if you do go, make sure and have the Catfish, Hush Puppies and Onion Rings at Boyette’s. It will change your life :slight_smile: They are located over near the spillway.

Also, if you are sight seeing, drive up to Flippen’s Hillbilly Barn and say Hi to the owners and tell them Jay Boyd from Illinois sent you. They are great personal friends of mine and will also be great for additional advice on other sites in the area. They are only 10 minutes from the lake in Troy.

Have fun.


ive been on reelfoot
and there are alot of snakes awhole lot of snakes…we camped at the state park on the west end of the lake but im not sure if its still in opperation… the wind can also be quite problematic…ive seen boats get swamped on the boatramps trying to load at the end of the day…did i mention snakes… take a crappie pole cause the crappie fishing is good there and if you fish be prepared to purchace 2 licences state and federal…ive never paddled that water so route information is not available but i always prefered the west side of the lake to shy away from the gusty winds. there is a bunch of underwater structure (trees,limbs, stumps) just under the surface all over the lake …and other than there being snakes everywhere its a great place to fish…

Went paddling there a few years ago and had a great time. Warned many times about snakes but never saw one! But beware of the stumps. Friend of mine got stuck on a stump below the surface and just paddled in circles until she got my attention. Had to push her kayak off the stump to get her moving. Made for a great story later. There’s a nice visitor center at the lake which gives a good history of Reelfoot and you can get more info about where to put in and about the snakes. Have fun!

Are you sure they were cottonmouth
snakes? We live in western NC and have not had to deal with cottonmouth snakes, though they are farther south - in Florida, etc.

In our area, there are non-venomous water snakes - not in the numbers described in these postings - but they are in the lakes. I even had some take up residence in our small decorative fish ponds, until the cats got them.

On the way
OK, thanks folks, we’re loading up and on the way this AM. Gonna take our time getting there. If we see a likely paddling spot along the way we may stop for a quick side trip. The comment on stumps makes me think I should leave the wooden boat behind and just take a couple of plastic ones.


was this lake formed by an earthquake back in the early 1800’s or do i have the wrong locale?

Yup, Plenty of Cottonmouths There

– Last Updated: Oct-16-08 3:10 AM EST –

Been a couple years since I've been to Reelfoot, but it's about 1.5 hours south of where I grew up. Not that many miles, but you had to cross a ferry boat from MO to TN to get there. The Mississippi delta area is loaded with cottonmouth. Around here we call them "Water moccasins." WW

That’s correct; it was formed by an eqrthquake. It’s also the only “natural” lake in Tennessee. All others are man-made.

TN snakes
True, was caused by an earth quake on the New Madrid

Fault. The Mississippi River flowed backwards as the lake filled up. I have lived in Tennessee all my life. Nashville and Memphis, West Tennessee has many cottom mouths or watet mochasins, both names are correct. It is white inside it’s mouth when it opens it to strike. The reason for the cottom mouth name. It is a dangerous snake. Unlike a lot of snakes, it will not only “stand” it’s ground, it can be agressive if disturbed. Very poisonus bite, lots worse than a copperhead, some of them around there too. Other than rattlers, the only other poisonus snake indiginous to the area is the coral. The coral is not likely to be able to inject its venum though because its fangs are so far back in its head.

All this said, using your head and keeping a reasonable watch, you will fare well. I am in my sixties and have spent much time in the wild and have not been bitten once. Watch where you are going and where you step. If you see a snake of any kind, give it all the room it wants. Just leave it alone. Take a detour.

Mochasins are generaly black and thick, with a really white open mouth.

Copperheads are usually brown with darker banding but there are also some nonvenomus water snakes that look some like them. Sometimes the head will have a copper look to it.

Rattlers are something most people are familiar with from movies and such.

Corals are fare and are red, black and yellow banded and usually slim.

Lots of folks like to scare you about snakes and you should take care. Just don’t let it spoil your fun or worse keep you from getting out there. Personally I am more concerned about the drivers in town

Back Home
Just got back from Reelfoot this afternoon. Nice trip. Thanks to jboyd for the tip on Boyettes. The amount of food they brought to our table would have fed a family of four. We spent about half the day on Tuesday on the upper part of the lake. Didn’t see any snakes, lots of waterfowl. The scenery is beautiful, groves of cypress trees in the lake and areas of waterlillys that seemed to cover several acres. The lake is however, very shallow. The map I bought said an average of 5.5ft. There are lots of stumps visible and many more that are just beneath the surface and VERY hard to see in the tannin-stained water. Was very glad I chose not to take my wooden CLC 17, we bumped off stumps frequently.

Probably a bit cool for the
slithery ones now.