Weiss Lake crappie are eager to take anglers’ offerings, and they bite year-round. (Photo: Ed Masburn)
Weiss Lake – A Deep South Crappie Paradise
by Ed Mashburn
Lake Weiss offers crappie anglers year-round opportunity for catching lots of big crappie.
The long pole seemed to bend over double as something took my mini-jig and ran back for the dock it had been calling home. I held my ground and the flexible pole did its work, helping me ease the fish back to the boat. A quick dip of the net, and the slab crappie was added to our growing cooler of future fillets.
The best thing about this catch – it could have happened in spring, fall, summer or even winter. I was fishing on gorgeous Weiss Lake near Leesburg, Alabama. Th crappie fishing never stops on Weiss Lake, regardless of the season.
Weiss Lake Details
Weiss Lake is a big lake – about 32,000 acres. It is created from three major rivers – the Coosa, the Chattooga, and Little River. Weiss is the first impoundment on the Coosa chain of lakes- all of which are very, very good crappie fishing lakes.
Captain Lee Pitts is a fishing guide and crappie specialist on Weiss Lake. His paycheck depends on his expertise.
Captain Pitts says, “Weiss has hundreds of acres of back water bays and shallow stump flats. There are many creeks that allow drop-offs and creek bends that hold fish. The best areas for fall fishing are river ledges filled with manmade and natural brush piles.”
Pitts continues, “Weiss has so many spawning areas from one end of the lake to the other, and it is loaded with creeks and shallow stump fields excellent for spawning.”
Unlike the majority of other Alabama lakes where the minimum crappie size limit is nine-inches, Weiss Lake has a ten-inch minimum size limit on crappie.
“Our ten-inch limit assures that those nine and a half-inch crappie are replenishing the lake each year,” said Capt. Pitts.
How To Catch Weiss Lake Crappie
Captain Pitts tells us that even though Weiss Lake is quite productive for big crappie at all times of the year, some seasons are just better than others.
He says, “The most productive times of year are the first of February to the middle of May. Also, we have a great fall season from late September into December. During the summer months, crappie tend to head back to the main river channels and spread out and can be harder to catch.”
In the early part of the spring season, longline trolling seems to be the most popular and most productive method of fishing for Weiss Lake crappie, but as the fish start relating to wood cover during the spawn, dock shooting comes into play.
Pitts says, “My favorite baits- the Bobby Garland Baby Shad and the Bobby Garland Minnow Minder- are some of my favorite dock shooting baits. For trolling, I prefer the Bobby Garland Stroller- this is a bait that puts off a lot of vibration and thumps. It holds higher in the water column at lower speeds.”
Lure color is a matter of preference- if the angler throws what the fish want, they’ll bite. If the wrong color is presented, the catching will be slow. Since shad are a primary forage for big crappie on Weiss, going with white, silver, or other shad-look jigs is always a good choice. However, when the water is off-color or if the surface is rough and choppy, chartreuse and orange can be good choices.
Capt. Pitts says, “My rod and reel of choice for dock shooting is a Lew’s 6’6” to 7’ medium action rod and the Lew’s Speed Spin Light. This is a smaller profile reel that has a great drag system and smaller diameter that doesn’t wear you out through a day of dock shooting.”
For most situations for crappie anglers on Lake Weiss, six-pound high-vis line is a good choice. It may be necessary to go lighter if the water is very clear, but six-pound line allows anglers to put some pressure on a jig to recover it if it gets snagged. If crappie anglers are fishing right on Lake Weiss, they will get snagged on the wide range of structure on the bottom.
For Visitors to Lake Weiss
Any time anglers start out on a new lake, it’s always a good idea to talk to the folks who work at the docks and marinas and get their advice. However, on a big lake with so many possible places to fish and so many different ways to fish for the big crappie, sometimes it’s best to follow basic instincts.
Captain Pitts said, “Weiss is a big lake so don’t get too keyed in on ‘dock talk’ in certain areas. There is always room to venture out and find your own places where there are tons of fish.”
Crappie anglers visiting Lake Weiss will find plenty of places to stay in the nearby towns of Leesburg, Centre, and Cedar Bluff. Desoto State Park is a gorgeous place with lots of camping and lodge options and it lies within 20 miles of Lake Weiss.
Lake Weiss has over a dozen marinas and launch areas for anglers.
(Lee Pitts Guide Service- 256-390-4145)
(Ed Mashburn is a retired public school teacher, outdoor writer and photographer. He lives in southern Alabama, but he fishes for anything – carp and trout in Arizona, smallmouth bass and crappie in Wisconsin to snook and snapper in the Florida Keys.)