You’re Probably Not Far from Some World Class Slab Crappie Fishing.
When it comes to freshwater fishing, crappie is widely recognized as the most popular game fish. This is because lots of people spend lots of time chasing after these fish.
These black-and-white fish run in big schools and are usually willing to bite. Fortunately, there’s few fish that compare to a platter of delicious, hot crappie fillets.
Alabama folks have some of the best crappie fishing in the world because on both the west and east sides of the state, anglers can catch some great crappie.
Miller’s Ferry in Southwest Alabama above Mobile is widely recognized as just about the best place in the region to gather up a big mess of fat crappie for a fish fry. On the other hand, on the east side of ‘Bama, Lake Weiss is known as the “Crappie Capital of the World.”
Best of all, Alabama is blessed with not just great numbers of crappie, but the state has some really big slab crappie.
To give you an inside look, a couple of crappie experts on Lake Weiss and Miller’s Ferry Lake offer some good ideas. These tips will help for finding and catching some big ol’ slab crappie in February.
Miller’s Ferry—Joe Dunn
Our buddy Joe Dunn operates a sporting goods store in Thomasville, which is right on the way to Miller’s Ferry. Mr. Dunn fishes Miller’s Ferry a great deal, and he knows a lot about finding and catching the big slab crappie that are abundant in Miller’s Ferry. He gives us some very good advice about gathering in a chest full of big crappie.
“In early February, the biggest crappie are going to be strictly in the river, and they will be deep,” he says. “The water temperatures will be in the 50s, and the crappie will be slow.”
Dunn continues. “Early in February, we’ll be using a lot of live bait—minnows—for the deep-holding crappie.”
The crappie in Miller’s Ferry respond to the changes in weather. In February, the weather and the fishing can swing either way—back to winter conditions or on toward spring. Because of this, Anglers need to use their depth finders to find bait and crappie and pay attention to water temperatures.
“For February crappie fishing, Joe Dunn advises anglers to combine live and artificial baits.”
“If we get a week of sunshine and no wind, the water will start to warm,” he says. “If the water warms toward the end of the month, the crappie may start up the main creek and slough channels toward the shallows. A big key is to watch the water temps. This is because we want 60 degrees so the crappie will start to make their move toward spawning shallows. Once the water hits 60 degrees, the crappie will be right on the banks.”
For February crappie fishing, Joe Dunn advises anglers to combine live and artificial baits. “I use a Blakemore Roadrunner when I’m trolling for crappie,” he says. “I put a two-inch grub on the Roadrunner head, and then I tip the hook with a live minnow. When trolling, I try to be careful not to have my baits running too deep. I do this because lots of times, the crappie in Miller’s Ferry will be up fairly shallow in the water column. Crappie will do this even if the water I’m working is pretty deep. Sometimes, the crappie will be up pretty shallow like maybe four feet or less.”
For deep water live bait fishing on Miller’s Ferry, Joe Dunn says, “I put the weight on the end of my line and then have a Southern Pro jig above the sinker with a grub body. Then, I’ll put my live minnow on the jig.”
A little bit of good advice from Dunn about fishing Miller’s Ferry in February is this: The Miller’s Ferry Marina is a good place to put your boat in because the slough where the marina is located has a lot of warm-water springs which warm up the water sooner than the rest of the lake.
This is the first slough to warm up in the early spring. This is also the first place in early spring that the big Millers Ferry slabs will approach shallow water.
Weiss Lake—Captain Lee Pitts
Of all Alabama’s wonderful lakes, Weiss Lake probably has the reputation of producing the most and the biggest crappie of all. This lake is a fine place to gather the most important ingredient of a fish fry—lots of crappie fillets.
Captain Lee Pitts guides anglers from all over the country as they come to Weiss to sample the world class big crappie fishing, and Captain Lee gives us some good advice about catching slabs in February.
“In February on Lake Weiss, water temperatures don’t have much to do with the bite,” he says. “It’s very important that the crappie here are following bait. They may be in 25 feet of water but they may be only six feet deep if that’s where the shad are. The crappie here will chase shad up in small creeks on warm afternoons, so they may be in only four feet of water.”
Captain continues. “I think it’s very important for anglers on Weiss to slow down and really work through schools of fish. I find fish by trolling, and then I use a Bobby Garland Slab Slayer soft plastic jig—it’s bigger and bulkier—and it often gets the bigger crappie.”
When Captain Lee starts a crappie hunt on Lake Weiss in February, he fishes open water and looks for fish starting to pull from the main lake to shallow water. He looks for fish that are following the bait.
On his electronics, he looks for balls of bait or any type of structure—stumps, old house foundations, and tops put down by anglers and dock owners. When he sees a ball of bait, he knows that when he’s trolling he’ll get a strike about 20 seconds later when his trolled baits reach the bait and the crappie are working it.
Captain Lee is very precise when it comes to rigging up for a February crappie trolling trip. “When I’m long-line trolling, I’ll use Mr. Crappie eight to 14-foot rods,” he says. “The longer rods go to the front of the boat and the shorter rods are in the back. On Weiss, anglers are allowed to use three rods at a time per person. However, when I’m guiding clients, I usually use just two rods per person. When the bite is hot, that’s plenty for an angler to keep up with.”
Pitts tries to keep his trolling jigs about 25 yards behind the boat. This is because he likes to troll at speeds from .06 to one mile per hour.
When it comes to selecting lures for trolling on Weiss in February, Captain Lee has some definite preferences. “I take a small 1/24 or 1/32 jighead and use a Bobby Garland Baby Shad or small Swimmer soft plastic body,” he says. “These are 2 ½ to three-inch long bodies. I like bluegrass, blue ice, monkey milk colors; and for cloudy days, black and chartreuse are the go-to colors.”
“The best way to find the biggest February slabs on Weiss Lake is to book a trip with a good local guide like Captain Lee Pitts”
“These places have major creeks with deep water,” he says. “Because of this, the crappie don’t have to move far to get back to deeper water from the shallows.”
The best way to find the biggest February slab crappie on Weiss Lake is to book a trip with a good local guide like Captain Lee Pitts. If you do this, you’ll be able to spend a day fishing with an expert who knows how and where to find the big slabs. After that, most anglers can go on their own and work the February slab crappie.
Important Contact Information:
Miller’s Ferry Marina
431 Marina Road, Camden, AL
Captain Lee Pitts
Little River Lodge and Marina
Bobby Garland Lures
Mr. Crappie Rods by Lews