What better place to be this fall than on beautiful Weiss Lake in northeast Alabama?
When it comes to finding the best fishing on any particular lake, nothing ensures success like local knowledge. And when it comes to finding the best spots and techniques when fishing Weiss Lake, no one is better qualified to offer advice to visiting anglers than Captain Lee Pitts.
Both a guide and tournament angler, Captain Lee has fished the waters of Weiss Lake for many years, and he offers us his thoughts on fishing Weiss Lake in the fall.
Although November is in the fall, the weather doesn’t always act like it. Many days, anglers can fish very comfortably in shorts and light shirts. Of course, if a cold front blows through, anglers will want to have jackets and long pants ready. It pays to be prepared for just about any kind of weather in November on Lake Weiss.
Where to Find Them
The first thing that most anglers notice when they start fishing Weiss Lake in the fall is it seems to have a much lower water level than at other times of the year. The shoreline shows a wide band of bare rock and stump bottom, and the vegetation line is way up the shoreline away from the water.
Every fall, the lake level of Weiss is drawn down to winter pool level so homeowners can repair and improve their docks and other shoreline structure, but more importantly so winter storms with strong north winds can’t erode the shoreline.
Places, where anglers could easily fish just a few months before during summer, are now high and dry. Although the lower levels may expose some ideal fishing bottom, the lower levels also make navigating around the lake and locating some great stumps, rocks and other structure much easier.
A point that Weiss Lake anglers need to keep in mind, no matter the season, is the current makes a big difference in the behavior of the fish. If the dams are releasing water, there will be a current in the lakes, and the fish come alive when the current is moving.
Bass in the Fall
Captain Lee Pitts says, “Bass fishing in the fall is a special time for Weiss Lake anglers. This is the time when the baitfish get shallow, and the bass follow. The bass—both spots and largemouth—know winter is coming, and they are on the feed. Most of the bait has moved back in the pockets and the back ends of the creeks.”
“Bass fishing in the fall is a special time for Weiss Lake anglers. This is the time when the baitfish get shallow, and the bass follow.”
Knowing where the baitfish (primarily shad of various kinds) tend to locate during the fall cool-down time makes finding the bait, and the bass that feeds on them, so much easier.
“Some of the things I look for are shallow docks with brush piles around them,” says Captain Lee. “I also look for scattered stumps on shallow flats where fish can ambush bait.”
Anglers need to look hard for gravel points which lead into the main lake body. These hard-bottom structures can hold massive numbers of bass which are there to ambush shad moving into the shallow creeks and backwaters.
Crappie are Getting Hot
Weiss Lake is called “The Crappie Capital of the World” for a reason. There may not be anyplace in the whole region that offers better crappie fishing for slabs year-in and year-out.
In the fall, the crappie starts their winter feeding and holding patterns, and for anglers who can figure out where the crappie are, fishing can be fast and furious. What the crappie are doing in the fall is easy to understand: They are feeding on shad to store up energy for the coming cooler weather.
Captain Lee tells us, “Crappie, on the other hand, stay out more on the river and creek ledges in deeper water. Wherever you find cover on the deeper drop-offs, you will find crappie.
“Crappie holding in deeper channel and ledges in the main lake can be caught by very slow trolling. Once concentrations of slabs are found, a good mess of crappie can be collected quickly on small jigs fished from spider-rig rods.
“That’s not to say crappie don’t get shallow at times in the fall. I catch plenty of slab crappie on boat docks in four, eight, and ten feet of water. It may take a day-to-day search to find the biggest and best concentrations of fall crappie on Lake Weiss, but most anglers find the time and trouble worth it when they strike pay dirt and the big old spotted crappie start filling up the ice chest.
What Lures Work Best in the Fall for Bass?
No matter what time of year, using a lure that closely resembles the main forage bass are feeding on at the time just makes sense.
This is particularly true when it comes to fishing Weiss Lake in the fall. The fish can target a single size of bait and a single species, and this means that anglers need to throw lures that match the preferred meal.
“I love covering water and finding brush piles,” Captain Lee Pitts says. “I like to use a square-bill crankbait in the fall. With bass feeding up on shad, I prefer a small 1.5 oz Spro Little John in a shad pattern. I like this lure to have a little blue and chartreuse, and I really like the lure to have an orange throat patch.”
Anglers will want to put this kind of crankbait right in the close vicinity of the feeding bass, and this means risking hangups from time to time. However, when the hangup starts to swim off and bend the rod over, most bass anglers find the risk of a lure a very good thing.
Captain Lee says, “I want an erratic retrieve with my crankbaits, and I want to really crash the crankbait hard into the cover. When the crankbait bounces off the cover, I let it rest and suspend or float up. This is often the time when bass will strike.
“Also, fall is a good time for top-water fishing on Weiss Lake. A ¼ oz buzzbait and a Pop’R are hard to beat for big largemouths and magnum Coosa River spots.”
Old house foundations and mid-lake humps which are now much shallower than in times of full pool water levels are prime places for top-water fishing Weiss Lake in the fall.
One thing most crappie hunters discover to their chagrin is that the bigger slabs can be downright picky when it comes to lures that they will take.
Weiss Lake crappie are no exception, and using the wrong size, color, and type of lure can waste a lot of time.
“Crappie will change from day to day in their choice of favorite color.”
Captain Lee says, “For catching crappie in the fall, my all-time go-to bait is the Bobby Garland Baby Shad and Slab Slay-R. I prefer multiple color combinations from black and blue, blue and chartreuse to hot pink.”
Anglers will want to have a wide range of colors of jigs on hand because the crappie are a bit fickle. Crappie will change from day to day in their choice of favorite color. It never hurts to rig two jigs on each line. This can make picking up a pattern of preferred color much easier.
“If I’m shooting docks with my jig,” says Captain Lee, “I’ll usually go with a more hop- and-drop retrieve. If I’m using a float, I’ll ease the jig about three feet and then let it sit. If I’m fishing deeper water, I’ll drop the jig and try to hold it in position.
“I will also use as light a jighead as I can get away with. I prefer the Bobby Garland Mo-Glow heads because they have great fall, and they track straight. And very importantly, you cannot beat the hook of the Mo-Glow.”
Where to Put in and Start a Trip for Fishing Weiss Lake
One of the added benefits of taking a late trip in the fall for fishing Weiss Lake is the surrounding countryside and shoreline areas are just gorgeous with the fall colors and the migrating birds and waterfowl.
Captain Lee Pitts says, “The best thing about fishing Weiss Lake in the fall is most pleasure boaters and recreational water vehicles have called it quits for the winter, making boat traffic limited. It just makes sense for anglers to start stocking your freezers with crappie for some great fish fries during the cold days of winter.”
The low lake levels of Weiss Lake in fall and winter might appear to make launching a boat much harder, but there’s really no problem. Many ramps were built with the wide variation of lake levels in mind, so anglers can find lots of good ramps.
“Even with lower lake levels,” Captain Lee says, “several good ramps are available all over the lake. There is a great public state ramp on Hwy 9 between Cedar Bluff and Centre.”
Captain Lee continues. “On the lower end of the lake, the city of Leesburg has a good ramp with public restrooms. On the main body of the lake is Little River Marina. This marina has a full line breakfast and lunch hot bar (which both can be very nice when the weather starts to turn cooler in fall).
“Little River Marina also has a convenience store and a boat shop with a certified professional boat mechanic on duty.”
Important Contact Information:
Captain Lee Pitts
Little River Marina
1780 CR 102
Cedar Bluff, AL 35959
Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce
801 Cedar Bluff Rd
Bobby Garland Crappie Baits
10702 E. 11th St.
Tulsa, OK 74128