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In regard to links throughout this Site, you may see a word that is underlined but NOT highlighted blue like a link, It IS a link and these are words that can be found in our Dictionary. In case  you're unfamiliar with some of the fishing lingo.

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Black Crappie
Pomoxis nigromaculatus 

White Crappie
Pomoxis annularis 

The best way to differentiate these two fish are by counting dorsal fin spines, as the white crappie has 6 and the black crappie has 7 to 8. The white crappie is also the only sunfish with the same number of spines in both the dorsal and anal fins. The breeding white male grows darker in color and is often mistaken for a black crappie.

Black Crappie

White Crappie

[Common Names]    [Description]   [Habitat]
[Spawning Habits]   [Feeding Habits]
[Sporting Quality]  [Eating Quality]

[Common Names]     [Diet]     [Habitat]     [Length]    [Identification]

Fishing for Crappies

Black Crappie

Common Names

 speckled perch, specks, papermouth, bachelor perch, calico bass, strawberry bass, or white perch.


The black crappie is a silvery-green to yellowish fish with large dorsal and anal fins of almost identical shape and size. The sides are marked with black blotches which become more intense towards the back. The dorsal, anal, and caudal fins also are marked with rows of dark spots. Crappies have compressed bodies, small heads and arched backs. It has a large mouth with an upper jaw extending under the eye.

The Black Crappie is one of the largest and most popular panfish. They can reach up to 3 pounds in weight, and have an excellent flavor for eating. They are common in many lakes and ponds in the US and are sometimes found in small rivers and streams. They are also known as "paper mouths" because of their large thin lips. Like most panfish, they are a schooling fish and usually stay in schools of 5 to 25. In the spring in fall they come into shallow water and tend to stay in mid depth to deeper water during the summer. They are one of the most common fish caught through the ice, and are willing to bite through-out the year if you can locate them. They will often mix in with other schools of other panfish such as Bluegill and green sunfish. They are one of the few panfish that readily take artificial baits; tube jigs and flu flus are your best bet. At times crappie can be difficult to catch.

(where they live and hang around)

 Black crappies thrive in clear, natural lakes and reservoirs with moderate vegetation. They are also found in large slow-moving less turbid rivers, provided the water is not too murky. Crappies prefer water from 70 to 75 degrees but will tolerate water over 80 degrees. It is gregarious and often travels in schools.

Spawning Habits
(where they lay their eggs)

Spawning occurs from February to April when water temperatures reach 62 to 65 degrees. They nest in colonies. Circular nest are fanned by males over gravel or soft-muddy bottoms and frequently around submerged vegetation in waters from three to eight feet deep. After spawning, males guard the eggs and fry. Females may produce between 11,000 and 188,000 eggs.

Feeding Habits
(what they like to eat)

 Natural baits include
aquatic insects
small minnows
and small fishes.

 Adults mainly eat small fish, particularly open-water forage fish, like threadfin shad.


Artificals include:

 and flies

Sporting Quality

 Black crappies are excellent game fish and are highly regarded by bait fishermen and artificial lure anglers alike. They are easily caught during prespawning periods when the fish are congregated in large schools. Trolling with small, live minnows or a spinner-fly combination is very productive. They will also strike subsurface flies, small spinners, jigs, and tiny crankbaits. Crappies tend to suspend in midwater, so you may have to experiment to find the right depth.

The difference with crappie is that you will use minnows and you will not fish on the bottom.  They will be suspended in brush such as a fallen tree.  Also you will use a #2 wire hook with the minnow hooked so that it can stay alive and swim around for as long as possible.
A float sets the depth. 

Eating Quality

 Considered to be excellent eating by many anglers. The meat is prepared by rolling in cornmeal or dipping in pancake batter and deep frying, and can also be baked or broiled.

White Crappie

Other Common Names

  Silver crappie, bachelor, white perch, sac-a-lait, newlight, strawberry bass, goggle eye, papermouth, tin mouth, bachelor perch, slab

(what they like to eat)

  Feeds on fish and insects

You can catch Crappie with
minnows, worms, jigs & artificial spinners

(where they live and hang around)

Prefers clear water with aquatic vegetation, will tolerate some muddy water


Average length is 6 to 14 inches


Silvery body that shades to green or brown on the back; several (7-9) dark vertical bars on each side and whitish belly; "hump-backed" with 6 spines in the dorsal fin; seldom exceed 2 pounds

Fishing for Crappies

use light line 4-6 lb test 

The use of an ultralite rod is nice for getting some fight out of them and is necessary when using small jigs and baits.

The best live bait for crappies is small minnows, also known as "crappie minnows"

Crappies also take small artificial baits as well. Use a slip bobber rig you'd normally use for live bait but tie on a small jig hook (1/16-1/8 oz) and put a tube jig on it. This rig is especially productive with a little chop on the waves. Also jigging a small flu flu or tube jig off the bottom can also be productive.

In early spring look for crappies in medium water; about 12 feet deep or so. Crappies are one of the first fish to become active after the ice gets off a lake in the Northern US, and one of the first panfish to start spawning.

When spawning time arrives look for crappies in shallow water, this is when shore fishing is most productive.

Crappies are harder to find in the summer, they move into deeper water and their schools often scatter.

As the water cools in the fall, crappies will move back into shallow areas for a short period of time before the fall turnover when they will move into their winter positions.

For winter and ice fishing, look for them in medium to deep water. They still stay in schools in the winter, and ice fishing for crappies can be as or more productive than in the open water season.


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It is important that people who fish follow all fishing rules and regulations.
These rules help conserve fish populations and also help anglers be successful.
Regulations may limit the size of, number of, and season that a type of fish may be caught, and may require a license to fish. In some cases, only “catch and release” fishing is allowed, which means the fish must be let go. Some bait is illegal in certain areas.
Contact your state wildlife agency by visiting Our Rules and Regulations Page.

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