Good crappie are part of the fun of November-December fishing. Lee Pitts shows off two good Alabama crappie!
Weiss Lake Fall Crappie Action
by Tim Huffman
Crappie Capital of the World
No lake has a better claim to being “Crappie Capital of the World,” than Weiss Lake in Alabama. This northeastern Alabama lake offers more than 30,000 acres of great fishing.
Lee Pitts has been guiding there for many years and says the November-December period is a great time to catch crappie. There are fewer fishermen on the lake, fish can still be caught with several techniques and the fish are healthy and heavy.
“With water temperatures starting in the low 70’s and dropping each week, the November and December time period can be a versatile fishing time,” says Pitts, “Also, there is a six-foot drawdown of the lake. That may not sound like much, but on a shallow water lake, six feet really changes things.
Fish can be caught along creeks, secondary points and deeper boat docks. Spider rigging is popular along the deeper water structures. However, my favorite technique is to shoot docks. The fish will start relating to the post, and most of our docks are permanent post-driven, so fish have something to relate to and there are always brushpiles on the outside of the docks.
“The fish will be on the deeper docks,” said Pitts. “But they will also move into the more shallow ones, the ones with three to seven feet of water.”
Pitts uses his rod like a bow and arrow by grabbing the jighead, pulling the jig back so the rod is bent into arc (loaded), then lets the jig fly toward the target. It shoots the jig, keeping a low center of gravity so the jig can be shot under low walkways, under pontoons and far back into the shadows of the dock.
His equipment includes a Lews Speed Spin, a very lightweight reel that’s perfect for shooting. He matches that with a 6’ to 7’ rod. The key is having the right length rod for the fisherman for shooting and bait control. Most people need a 6’ or 6’6” rod. He says his wingspan is long, so he likes a 7’. Line is six-pound-test high-vis Vicious because bites are easier to see when using the high-vis. Baits are Bobby Garland Baby Shad or Slab Slay’R jigs.
“I use a pendulum retrieve. By using a 1/24- or 1/32-ounce jig, I can shoot it out, let it start sinking and hold my rod tip up at a 45-degree angle to it let it pendulum back to me. The line will have a slight bow in it that will show even the lightest bites,” said Pitts. “It’s really strange here this time of year because fish will continue to move up into even shallower docks in water three to seven feet deep.
“I’ve watched a lot of fishermen who come up to the front of a dock, make several casts and move on,” said Pitts. “Fish position differently depending upon current, time of day, angle of the sun and other factors. It’s important for a fisherman to shoot from different angles.”
Pitts may back off the dock and shoot several times to each side of a piling post. If no bites, he will move to the back of the dock and shoot the jig to the front of the dock, past the piling and let it fall back.
“If fish are facing toward the front of the dock, I have a much better chance to catch them when I’m bringing the jig to the front of their face instead of coming up behind them, so presenting a bait from several angles can be critical,” he said.
He believes baits are important in both size and shape. The streamline baits like a Bobby Garland Baby Shad or Slab Slay’R, allows a fisherman to skip the bait further. They have no appendages to catch water so they allow a jig to be skipped back up under walkways and other tight places. Getting deep into the shade is often important.
He says his Humminbird electronics are important to know if fish are present and their depth.
“Spider rigging works great this time of year,” he said. “Along the creeks and secondary points, fishermen can use vertical presentations to catch plenty of fish.
It often comes down to where and how a fisherman wants to fish because the November-December period is a good time to catch fish in a variety of ways.
Pitts says spider rigging is a whole different setup and presentation, but it has been used for many years all around the country so most fishermen know how to work this technique. It’s good for fishing slow or stopped, moving, searching and fishing deep. He recommends starting in the 12- to 16-foot range and work deeper if necessary.
Get information on area lodging, points of interest and events in the Weiss Lake area at www.cherokee-chamber.org or call 256-927-8455.
(Tim Huffman has specialized in crappie fishing, writing and photography since 1988. He is currently the Editor/Senior Writer for Crappie Masters Magazine, freelance contributor to four magazines, book author and Senior Writer for CrappieNow Digital Magazine.)