10 Crappie Fishing Lakes in Alabama

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I am always on the lookout for new and exciting places to fish for my favorite species – crappie. Recently, I have discovered that Alabama is a top destination for crappie fishing.

 

Top 10 Crappie Lakes in Alabama

Lake Guntersville

Lake Guntersville is my favorite lake in Alabama for crappie fishing. The sheer beauty of the lake, along with the abundance of crappie, makes for an amazing day on the water. You’ll find plenty of brush piles and boat docks that hold crappie, so make sure to target those areas.

Wheeler Lake

As the second largest lake in Alabama, Wheeler Lake is a great spot to target crappie. I’ve had success fishing around the decaying aquatic vegetation near the shorelines. Make sure to also try out the rocky areas and boat docks, as crappie tend to congregate there.

My secret tip is to target the drops-offs near the main channel, as that’s where I’ve found the most success. The water is often crystal clear, making it an enjoyable and serene fishing experience.

Wilson Lake

Wilson Lake offers both black and white crappie, providing a great opportunity to reel in some big catches. In the spring, I like to fish around the shallow bays where crappie spawn, and during the summer, I move towards the river channel drop-offs.

Pickwick Lake

Pickwick Lake is not only known for its beautiful scenery, but also for its excellent crappie fishing. I highly recommend targeting the brush piles and stump fields, as they provide an ideal habitat for crappie to group in.

Lewis Smith Lake

Often referred to as “Alabama’s most picturesque fishing spot,” Lewis Smith Lake is a fantastic location for crappie fishing. You can find deep water structure teeming with crappie, so don’t forget your electronics to locate the ideal fishing spots.

Lake Martin

Lake Martin offers great accessibility for crappie anglers. Fish around the many man-made brush piles and pier pilings, and you’re sure to reel in some keepers. I find that the best times to fish here are spring and fall.

Logan Martin Lake

Logan Martin Lake is another excellent option for crappie fishing. I love fishing here because of the plentiful crappie around the lake. Make sure to focus on the small coves and backwaters, as crappie often spawn and seek refuge there.

Neely Henry Lake

Neely Henry Lake is a top spot for crappie anglers who enjoy fishing around natural and man-made structure. I usually target the downed trees and boat docks, as they provide an ideal hiding spot for crappie.

I decided to take on Neely Henry Lake with my trusty rod and reel, eager to reel in some crappie. It was an early spring morning, the kind where the mist still clung to the water’s surface, blurring the line between lake and sky. I loaded my small aluminum boat, which was about 14 feet in length, with all the essentials: a cooler for the catch, my tackle box, and of course, my favorite ultralight spinning setup with a 6-foot, light-action rod that made feeling the slightest nibble a certainty.

I set out just as the sun began to peek over the horizon, casting an orange glow across the water. The lake was calm, like a sheet of glass, and I could see the outlines of fish darting below the surface. Neely Henry Lake, known for its diverse structure, had always been a hotspot for crappie, especially around the submerged timber and brush piles that dotted the lakebed.

I navigated towards a cove I had fished before, one with a depth ranging from about 8 to 15 feet, perfect for crappie who tend to suspend in the water column. I had my trusty jig setup, a 1/16-ounce lead head tipped with a 2-inch chartreuse soft plastic that crappie seemed to find irresistible. I also brought along some live minnows, just in case the artificial lures weren’t doing the trick.

As I approached my spot, I cut the engine and let the boat drift quietly. I didn’t want to spook the fish with any unnecessary noise. I started casting around the submerged structures, working the jig with a slow, steady retrieve. It wasn’t long before I felt the unmistakable tap of a crappie. I set the hook with a gentle lift of the rod tip and was met with the satisfying resistance of a fish on the line.

The crappie put up a spirited fight, darting from side to side, trying to shake the hook. But my gear was perfectly suited for the task, and soon enough, I had the speckled beauty in my net. It was a nice one, about 12 inches long and weighing just over a pound. The black and white pattern on its scales glistened in the morning light as I unhooked it and placed it in the cooler.

I continued fishing, enjoying the serenity of the lake and the thrill of each catch. I noticed that the crappie were particularly fond of structure at about 10 feet deep that day, so I focused my efforts there. By the time the sun was high in the sky, my cooler was filled with a respectable haul of crappie, each one a testament to the lake’s abundance and the effectiveness of my approach.

As the day wound down, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the solitude and success of the trip. Neely Henry Lake had once again proven to be a crappie angler’s paradise, and I had the satisfaction of knowing that my personal experiences and knowledge of the lake had contributed to a bountiful day. With my boat gliding back to the dock, I was already looking forward to my next adventure on these waters, chasing the elusive crappie and the peace that comes with it.

Lake Wedowee

Last but not least, Lake Wedowee is an amazing location for crappie fishing. I have had my most success targeting secondary points and aquatic vegetation. This lake offers a beautiful fishing experience with its stunning landscape.

Lay Lake

Lay Lake is well-known for its abundant crappie population. The brush piles and fish attractors strategically placed around the lake create an excellent habitat for crappie. Don’t forget to try fishing at various depths to find those sweet spots where crappie are hanging out.

Best Seasons for Crappie Fishing in Alabama

When it comes to crappie fishing in Alabama, timing is everything. I always make a point to carefully plan my trips based on the season, as it can greatly impact the success of my fishing adventures. Here’s a quick rundown of the best seasons for crappie fishing in Alabama, which should come in handy for anglers of all levels.

Spring: In my experience, spring is hands down the best time for crappie fishing in Alabama. The water temperatures begin to rise and the crappie start to move closer to the shallows in preparation for their spawning cycle. Between March and May, the crappie can be found in shallow waters, usually around 3 to 6 feet deep. In addition, you’ll find them around brush piles, stumps, and submerged structure while they prepare and guard their nests.

Fall: Another great season for crappie fishing in Alabama is the fall. During September through November, the water temperature keeps dropping, which encourages crappie to school up in search of food before winter. In this period, I often target areas near drop-offs and underwater structures, in depths ranging from 8 to 12 feet. The key here is locating the baitfish they’re feeding on, such as shad or minnows.

Summer and Winter: Although not my go-to times for crappie fishing, both summer and winter do have some opportunities for landing crappie. In the summer, you might want to fish in deeper waters with your gear near submerged trees or channels. Winter crappie fishing is also possible as long as you’re in a lake that doesn’t ice over, with heavy structure at several depths and access to deep water.

SeasonQualityDepthKey Locations
SpringBest3 to 6 feetShallows, brush piles, stumps
FallGood8 to 12 feetDrop-offs, underwater structure
SummerFairDeeper watersSubmerged trees, channels
WinterFairVarious depthsHeavy structure, deep water

So there you have it, a brief overview of the best times to plan your crappie fishing trip in Alabama. By considering the seasons and the behavior of crappie throughout the year, you’re well on your way to increasing your chances of success on the water. Happy fishing!

Licensing and Regulations

Fishing License Requirements

Before we head out to those amazing crappie fishing lakes in Alabama, let me remind you that it’s important to have a proper fishing license. Here’s a quick breakdown of the license types available:

  • Resident Annual Freshwater: For those of you who have been residents of Alabama for at least 90 days, this license will cost you $13.85.
  • Non-Resident Annual Freshwater: If you’re not an Alabama resident, you can still get in on the fun for $53.30.
  • Resident Senior (65+) and Disabled Military Veteran Freshwater: Special licenses are available for seniors and disabled military veterans who are Alabama residents, priced at $3.20.
  • 7-Day Trip Freshwater: Planning a week-long fishing adventure? This license is perfect for short-term visits, costing $29.95 for non-residents and $12.60 for residents.

You can easily purchase your fishing license online on the official Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website.

Crappie Fishing Regulations

Now that we have our licenses sorted, let me briefly highlight the regulations you need to follow while targeting crappie in Alabama:

  • Daily Creel Limit: When fishing for crappie, the daily creel limit is 30 crappie per person. Be mindful not to exceed that number.
  • Minimum Size Limit: Crappie must be at least 9 inches long to keep, so be sure to bring your measuring tape along to stay compliant.
  • Legal Fishing Methods: When crappie fishing, you can use cast nets, hook and line, trotlines, and rod and reels. However, spearfishing and archery for crappie are both illegal in Alabama, so stick to the approved methods.

Remember to always follow the rules and regulations while fishing these beautiful Alabama lakes. Let’s get out there, have fun, and reel in some crappie!

 

Crappie Species in Alabama

In Alabama, you can find both Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) and White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis). These two species are quite similar, but there are some differences in their physical appearance, habitats, and behaviors that make them unique.

SpeciesAppearanceHabitat & Behavior
Black CrappieDark black or green spots on a light backgroundPrefer clearer water and are more likely to be found near cover.
White CrappieLight vertical bars on a dark backgroundPrefer murky water and are more tolerant of variable conditions.

This diversity of crappie species in Alabama makes it an excellent destination for both beginner and experienced anglers.

Benefits of Fishing in Alabama

There are numerous benefits to fishing in Alabama. Some of the top reasons include:

  1. Abundance of Lakes – Alabama has a wealth of lakes that are ideal for crappie fishing, such as Lake Guntersville, Pickwick Lake, and Lay Lake. With so many options, you’ll never run out of new spots to explore.
  2. Long Fishing Season – Due to its moderate climate, Alabama offers a long crappie fishing season that extends from early spring through fall.
  3. Size & Quality of Fish – Alabama is known for producing large, quality crappie. In fact, the state record Black Crappie weighed an impressive 4 lbs 5 oz, while the record White Crappie tipped the scales at 3 lbs 13 oz.
  4. Accessible Fishing Opportunities – Alabama provides numerous public access areas for fishing, including state parks, public fishing lakes, and boat ramps. This makes it easy to find a spot to cast your line without breaking the bank.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for an excellent crappie fishing destination with an abundance of lakes, diverse species, and the chance to reel in some trophy-sized fish, I highly recommend giving Alabama a try.

 

Fishing Gear and Techniques

Essential Crappie Fishing Gear

When I go crappie fishing in Alabama, I always make sure to pack the following essential fishing gear:

  • Rod and reel combo: A 5-7 foot, light or ultralight action spinning rod, paired with a small spinning reel loaded with 4-8 lb test fishing line.
  • Terminal tackle: Crappie tend to have soft mouths, so I prefer using small, sharp hooks like a size 4 or 6 Aberdeen hook. I also bring along a few different sizes of split shot sinkers and small floats to use in different water conditions.
  • Lures and bait: It’s important to have a variety of crappie lures and baits on hand. Here are a few of my favorites:
    1. Jigs: 1/16 – 1/8 oz marabou, feather, or curly tail jigs in various colors, including chartreuse, white, pink, and black.
    2. Tube baits: Soft plastic tubes can be very effective when fished on a small jig head.
    3. Live bait: Minnows are always a top choice for crappie fishing. I suggest keeping a small bait bucket with an aerator to keep your minnows fresh.
  • Fishing accessories: For a successful crappie fishing trip, I also bring along a tackle box, a comfortable folding chair, polarized sunglasses, needle nose pliers, and a good quality fish gripper or landing net.

Effective Crappie Fishing Techniques

Now that we have our essential gear covered, let’s talk about some effective techniques I’ve learned over the years for catching crappie in Alabama:

  1. Vertical jigging: Fishing a jig near submerged cover, like brush piles or under docks, can be very productive. I usually cast past the cover, let the jig sink, and then slowly retrieve it while twitching the rod tip.
  2. Spider rigging: I sometimes use this technique when fishing from a boat. By attaching multiple rod holders with different lengths of rods, I can cover a wider area and target crappies at multiple depths. Bait each rod with minnows or jigs, then slowly troll or drift over likely crappie areas.
  3. Slip float fishing: I set up a slip float rig to suspend a live minnow or jig at the desired depth near cover or depth changes, where crappies tend to hold. The float allows me to detect subtle bites and adjust the depth easily.
  4. Casting and retrieving: Cast lightweight crappie lures, such as small spinners or crankbaits, near underwater vegetation or other cover. I use a steady and slow retrieve, occasionally twitching the rod tip to add some action to the lure.

By using these essential crappie fishing gear items and trying some of these effective techniques, my Alabama crappie fishing adventures have become even more enjoyable and successful.

Accommodations and Amenities

Lodging Options

When I visited these wonderful crappie fishing lakes in Alabama, I discovered several accommodation options to suit a variety of tastes and budgets. For those who prefer a more luxurious experience, there are upscale resorts and full-service hotels nearby, complete with amenities such as pools, spas, and fitness centers. If you’re on a budget or enjoy a more rustic experience, there are also campgrounds and cabin rentals available.

Here’s a short list of some lodging options I came across during my visit:

  • High-end resorts: Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa, Joe Wheeler State Park Lodge
  • Hotels: Hampton Inn, Best Western Plus
  • Campgrounds: Wind Creek State Park, Pickwick Landing State Park
  • Cabin rentals: Guntersville State Park Cabins, Lewis Smith Lake Rentals

Dining and Shopping

During my fishing trips, I always love exploring local dining options. I found that these Alabama lakes have a range of delicious eateries to suit various preferences and budgets. From savory barbecue joints to seafood restaurants and even cozy bakeries, there was something for everyone.

Some of my favorite dining spots I encountered near the lakes include:

  1. Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que – known for their mouth-watering barbecue and famous white sauce
  2. Top O’ The River – a catfish and seafood restaurant with a fantastic view of the lake
  3. The Brick – offering a delicious selection of pizza and pasta dishes in a laid-back atmosphere
  4. Wildflower Café – a quaint café serving homemade dishes and scrumptious desserts

For shopping enthusiasts, there are charming local shops and farmers’ markets where you can pick up souvenirs, fresh produce, and handmade items. Some popular shopping destinations I discovered were:

Shopping DestinationLocationItems Available
Bridge Street Town CentreHuntsvilleClothing, Accessories, Home Goods
The Shops at Willow BendGuntersvilleGifts, Souvenirs, Local Handicrafts
Scottsboro’s Unclaimed BaggageScottsboroDiscounted Clothing, Electronics
River Heritage Farmers MarketFlorenceFresh Produce, Homemade Goods, Crafts

Conservation Efforts

Habitat Preservation

I’ve noticed that Alabama has put in commendable efforts to preserve the natural habitat of crappie within its fishing lakes. One approach I’ve seen implemented is the construction of artificial reefs, which provide crappie with a suitable location to spawn and thrive. Alabama uses natural materials like brush piles and discarded Christmas trees to create these reefs.

Moreover, I’ve learned that Alabama is actively working on shoreline stabilization to combat erosion, which can negatively impact crappie habitats. They are implementing practices such as riprap and vegetation planting to keep the shorelines stable and preserve the natural habitat.

Responsible Fishing Practices

As a fishing enthusiast, I appreciate Alabama’s efforts to promote responsible fishing practices to protect crappie populations. Here are a few such practices:

  1. Catch and release: Encouraging anglers to catch and release crappie, allowing the fish to repopulate and maintain a healthy population.
  2. Size and creel limits: Establishing regulations on the minimum size and maximum number of crappie one can keep, ensuring sustainability.
  3. Fishing gear restrictions: Advocating the use of gear like circle hooks, which reduce the risk of injury to crappie, increasing their survival chances upon release.

Furthermore, Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) regularly organizes educational sessions for anglers, covering topics such as fish identification, ethical angling, and more. They also offer a certification program called the Master Angler Award for those who demonstrate exceptional responsible fishing practices.

By sticking to these conservation initiatives, Alabama’s beautiful crappie fishing lakes can continue to be enjoyed by future generations of anglers. So, the next time you’re out fishing, remember to follow responsible practices to keep the crappie population thriving.