John's Journal... Entry 85, Day 2
Weiss Lake's Colossal Crappie
EDITOR'S NOTE: I now know why anglers consider Weiss Lake near Centre, Alabama, on the Alabama/Georgia border, the Crappie Capital of the World and why Steve Pope of Centre, Alabama, ranks as one of the best guides anywhere. Pope has guided on Weiss Lake for 13 years and knows the water and the fish there like the back of his hand. His crappie-fishing techniques radically will change your ideas if you fish structure. This week, Weiss Lake's Crappie King will share his secrets to trolling, choosing a jig, locating fish and catching a limit of colossal crappie at Weiss Lake.
Weiss Lake produces the biggest crappie of any lake in Alabama. The lake has a 10-inch size limit, which means that anglers must throw crappie less than 10 inches back into the lake. So far, this 10-inch size limit has enabled Weiss to consistently produce large limits of big crappie over an extended period.
Fishermen know that crappie produce and grow in cycles. Generally a lake will produce a good year for crappie and then perhaps have a poor year of crappie production. However, Weiss Lake has nice crappie every spring and all year long, every year. By putting back the crappie less than 10-inches long, anglers at Weiss Lake have reported good crappie spawns each year.
"Our average crappie will weigh 1 to 1-1/2-pound," Pope reported. "Every day we catch crappie weighing 1-3/4- to 2 pounds."
Pope and the guys at the Weiss Lake Guide Service fish for small crappie from February through June and from September through November. "We don't fish for the crappie when the weather's really hot or very cold because the fish will stay deep at those times," Pope said.
The 10-inch-size limit on the crappie at Weiss means you'll have the opportunity to take numbers of fish. For every one keeper crappie you catch, you'll generally take three more undersized crappie. So, you'll reel in fish most of the day.
The method that Pope uses for crappie fishing makes catching fish easy for any age group or experience level. He sets folding chairs that open out with backrests on the back deck of the boat. Anglers sit in these chairs and watch three rods as they troll jigs in the depths of Weiss. When a crappie takes the jig, the angler simply reels in the fish and puts it in the boat. This style of fishing enables anyone to fish successfully and enjoy the sport.
Weiss, a very-fertile lake with three river systems and several large creeks running into it, provides ideal habitat for the crappie. Although an extremely big lake with large expanses of open water, Weiss also has a reputation for eating the lower units off outboard trolling motors.
"If you look at the terrain around the lake you'll see a lot of steep hills and deep valleys," Pope explained. "Since that same terrain is under the water, you can be running in 30 feet of water, come across one of those underwater hills and suddenly be in 2 feet of water. If you don't know your way around the lake, get a good lake map, and go slow."
Pope catches a large number of crappie each day, because of his advanced crappie-fishing techniques and his 13 years of daily fishing experiences on the lake. "Right now a lot of muddy water has come into Weiss and a lot of water is pulled through Weiss," Pope emphasized. "That fast-moving, muddy water traps pockets of clearer water near some of the spawning areas on the lake. If you know where to find that clear water close to the spawning bays, you can continue to catch crappie, regardless of the amount of rainfall we get."
To learn more about how to catch big crappie on Weiss Lake, or, to check out fishing conditions at Weiss, contact Steve Pope at (256) 927-6617, or go to his website www.weisslakeguideservice.com
For other proven tactics on how to catch crappie, return to Night Hawk's Homepage, and click on books. To receive a brochure or to order John E. Phillips' book, "The Masters' Secrets of Crappie Fishing," which contains more than 50 experts' tips for catching more crappie, call (800) 627-4295.
TOMORROW: String Strategies and Rigging Techniques