Crappie fisherman are a rare breed! Perfectly happy to brave freezing temperatures, driving rain, and long distances to catch the best tasting panfish in America, fisherman from all over America flock to Weiss Lake, Alabama in search of their prey. Known for decades as the Crappie Capital of the World, Weiss Lake is home to shallow docks and flats, as well as deep river channels these finicky fish crave. Finicky indeed, crappie seem to be more headstrong than other species in that their preferences change on a whim, all other conditions being equal. Weather that screams good fishing by conventional wisdom and history will routinely frustrate a crappie angler who struggles to get a bite. One day it’s a pink jig with a chartreuse tail, not a black jig with a chartreuse tail, and one day it’s minnows only to snag a slab. And some days it, a crappie fan has to throw every jig in his tackle to garner a strike, only to find their tastes have changed 30 minutes later. This angler has left the dock stumped and frustrated many times!
For the beginner crappie angler, now is the time to cut your teeth on these delicious fish at Weiss Lake. The old fisherman adage rings true – when the dogwoods bloom under a full moon, it’s time to head to the bank! Scientifically that means the first week of April is a safe bet, when warmer temps see the first buds of the dogwood trees, and the full moon seems to activate the species to head shallow for pre-spawn. Another indicator I use to judge a good day on the lake is if the air just smells “fishy”! That usually means fish are in the shallows and probably laden with eggs.
Though tackle and techniques vary widely, safe bets and methods can be broken down into two categories – trolling the lake long lining, and sitting on the dock with a favorite rod and reel. I fall into the latter camp almost exclusively, as selling houses prevents me from scheduling an all day boat trip, but most out of town anglers prefer to drop several rods tipped with jigs or minnows into the lake and slowly troll along likely points of cover. Local guides do this exclusively, having been chartered by folks from Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio quite often.
If you’re lucky enough to find crappie near the bank or an under a dock then I recommend a light spinning rod/reel combo. I prefer smaller tackle like children’s rods because they’re short enough I can cast easily under a dock, and flimsy enough that the fight feels more exciting. Crappie will almost always bite a minnow unless they’re simply not feeding, but I prefer to fish a jig in varying colors on a 1/16oz jig head with a bobber to maintain the correct depth. A slow retrieve or lightly popping the bopper will get the job done so long as you pinpoint the fish. Crappie are extremely structure-oriented, and will stack on top of one another near cover. I recently caught 24 slabs off of one Christmas tree in the water casting to the same spot. Crappie are funny in that if they can hide one of their eyes behind a piece of structure – they believe they’re totally hidden. I’ve caught many off a mere twig laying on the bottom of the lake! Speaking of eyes keep in mind that these fish always swim up to eat their prey. This is because their eyes are fixed facing slightly up on their heads. They’ll always chase a bait up, but never down as they can’t see below themselves. I usually start shallow with my bobber and work deeper. If I catch a catfish I know I’ve gone too deep! As for colors on Weiss Lake any combination of chartreuse usually wins.
Remember that there are limits on how many and how big a crappie you can keep! 10″ fish or better you can keep, no more than 30 per day, and you can only have three lines in the water at a time if you’re trolling in a boat. The floods of the past few years put a real damper on the crappie in the lake according to most fisherman, but this year seems to be the best fishing we’ve had since 2018. I can attest to that myself. While you’re dreaming of catching a Weiss Lake slab, why not make it more interesting? Purchase a 2023 Weiss Lake Crappie Rodeo badge for $15 at most any place around the lake that sells gas or bait, and if you catch a fish tagged by the Weiss Lake Improvement Association (WLIA), it could be worth anywhere from $50 up to $10,000! This money goes to WLIA to make improvements to Weiss Lake, and your $15 also nets you a membership in the organization, pun intended! Recent improvements include fishing habitat constructed and dropped into the lake, as well as solar channel beacon lights on all the channel marker poles in the lake. The latter was a tens of thousands of dollars undertaking that made navigating the lake at night much, much safer!
We at Lakefront Living Realty – AL are proud to call Weiss Lake our home, this agent living on the lake himself. If you want to catch crappie from your own dock give your Weiss Lake expert a call now!
by: Clark Stewart with Lakefront Living Realty – https://bit.ly/m/LakeGuru