John's Journal...


Crappie Plus

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.

I’ve been asked why I like the Spike-It jigs so much. These jigs are somewhat fatter than most jigs, and the company has some great colors. When you’re fishing stained water, color is important, and Spike-It has a wide variety of colors. The BlowHole that we fish during the winter is right off Highway 68, coming out of Cedar Bluff. When the crappie are biting, folks will see there’s a number of boats out there. So, they’ll go home, get Click to enlargetheir boats and come back to start fishing. I have seen as many as 50 boats in this same area fishing for crappie at one time. When you have a tremendous number of jigs in the water, you need a jig that’s a little special, if you’re going to catch more crappie than the other crappie fishermen in a crowded situation. That’s why I like Spike-It jigs. One of the biggest problems we have when there are so many people fishing is that many of these anglers will crank up their big engines instead of using their trolling motors to change position, which spooks the crappie. You can’t troll in this region because there are so many boats. So, the best way is to anchor-down on the shallow part of the ledge.

Christmas week in 2005 I had three other fishermen with me, and we caught 180-keeper crappie out of this hole in 4 hours. I don’t know of many places in the country where you can go crappie fishing in the wintertime and produce these kinds of numbers. That’s why people come from so far away to fish Weiss Lake, not only in the spring and summer but in the winter months as well. We have so many crappie concentrated in so many places along where we fish, catching two crappie at one time is an everyday occurrence. We work hard to make sure there are plenty of crappie in the lake throughout the year for fishermen to catch, not only by stocking crappie but also by building habitat and sinking deep beds and brush. We have a unique situation here at Weiss where three different river systems come together to create Weiss Lake, including the Little River, the Chattooga River and the Coosa River. All these river systems have not only the old underwater riverbeds in them but also plenty of creeks, sloughs and ditches off them. Click to enlargeWhen Alabama Power starts generating current through the lake, the crappie will move to all these underwater bottom breaks and hold right on the edges of those creek channels, ditches and river channels. By sinking brush, we can concentrate the crappie at the brush piles along these underwater current breaks. The lake also contains natural underwater eddies. If you know where these eddies are, particularly the ones with brush in them, you can find and catch more crappie. Because there is so much structure in Weiss, we prefer to fish with the 10- or 12-pound-test Mossy Oak Fishing Line. We usually fish with two jigs when we’re cork and fly fishing. So we have two knots tied in the line, plus you have your line clipped onto your bobber in two different places. Even though our weather is usually warm during the middle of the day, often early in the morning during the winter months, you’ll have ice build-up on your guides. You need a line that’s really strong and can take a lot of abuse, and that’s why we like the Mossy Oak Fishing Line. I know this pound test is heavier than most crappie fishermen fish with, but we also have three other problems to deal with when we’re crappie fishing at Weiss – spotted bass, saltwater striped bass and catfish. These species will also eat crappie jigs. When you get one of these fish on, you want to be able to hold it and get it to the boat. By using the heavier line and those sensitive but strong B’n’M poles, our fishermen have a better chance of landing not only crappie but also any other fish that bite crappie jigs.

Two other things that are critical for crappie-catching success is the type of knot you tie and the depth you fish. The knot we use is called the troller’s knot and is made by putting the jig on the line and then tying a loop in the line so that the line tie jig on the loop can move freely up and down that loop Click to enlargeknot. When I’m fishing with a bobber and twitch or move the bobber, the jig doesn’t jump or dart like it will if it’s tied directly to the line. It just quivers under the water like a baitfish that’s trying to hold its position in the water rather than swimming. When we see crappie on our depth finders, we don’t want our baits right at the exact depth that the crappie are holding. We want the baits to be a little above the crappie. Crappie look up to feed because they’re trying to feed on the baitfish feeding above them - not below them. You want your jigs to run above the crappie, not through or below the crappie.
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 4