John's Journal...


Why the Length Limit and Why Spider-Rigging

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jason Tucker, who guides out of J.R.’s Marina on Weiss Lake near Cedar Bluff, Alabama, has guided and fished on Lake Weiss, known as the Crappie Capital of the World, for 18 years. He guides more than 200 days a year for crappie during the fall, winter and spring and for striped bass during the hot summer months. Tucker’s also a member of the Weiss Lake Improvement Association and Crappie Unlimited, and you’ll learn more about both these organizations. Crappie Unlimited has the most-unique inshore artificial-reef-building program ever that’s funded by crappie fishermen, for crappie fishermen, and improves the habitat for all the fish in the lake.

Click to enlargeWeiss Lake’s fishermen and merchants have banded together and asked the State of Alabama to impose a 10-inch crappie limit at Weiss. We’ve learned that the 10-inch fish is one of the best spawners and reproducers. Today, crappie caught at Weiss have to be more than 10-inches long before an angler can add them to his or her creel. The fish over 10 inches in length are the bigger, better, eating-size fish. We realize we have to take the larger crappie out of the lake so that there’s plenty of food for the smaller fish to grow. We’ve learned that by leaving the crappie less than 10-inches long in the lake that we can have a large sustainable yield of crappie each year. Studies have indicated that 90 percent of the fishermen who come to fish at Weiss Lake travel from out of state, primarily from Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana. The drawing card that causes these anglers to leave their home states, visit Weiss Lake, and fish is that we not only have large numbers of crappie, but we have large numbers of big crappie. Click to enlargeAt this time of the year, most of the average keeper crappie will weigh from 1- to 1-1/2-pounds each. February through April, you’ll catch a lot of fish that weigh from 1-1/2- to 3-1/2-pounds, and that’s a good grade of crappie. Our winters are usually relatively mild. For instance on December 27, 2005, by 10:00 a.m., we had 50-degree weather. We very rarely get snow and very rarely have freezing temperatures throughout the winter and the early spring in this section of the South. Therefore northern anglers not only come to Weiss to catch crappie but also to stay warm.

Although we catch crappie all year long, our prime month for crappie fishing is February 15th to March 15th, when Weiss’s crappie are staging-up for the spawn. We’ll usually find large schools of females suspended out in the middle of the river and catch them by trolling, also known as spider-rigging. Click to enlargeWe use 10- and 12-foot-long B’n’M poles on the front of the boat and troll 8-foot B’n’M poles. We’ll use either the Spike-It Superflys or the Spike-It rubber jigs and 10-pound-test Mossy Oak Fishing Line. But before February 15th, we usually fish areas like the Blow Hole. On an average day, each fisherman can usually get his limit of 30 crappie quickly. One time a fishing buddy and myself caught over 400, 10-inch or bigger crappie in one day as we tagged and released them for the Weiss Lake Improvement Association’s annual crappie tournament.
To learn more about Jason Tucker, J.R.’s Marina and the fishing at Weiss Lake call (256) 779-6461 or visit


Check back each day this week for more about WINTERTIME CRAPPIE FISHING AT WEISS LAKE

Day 1: The Blow Hole
Day 2: Here They Come
Day 3: Why the Length Limit and Why Spider-Rigging
Day 4: Crappie Plus
Day 5: What is Crappie Unlimited



Entry 333, Day 3