White Crappie and Black Crappie are very similar and very popular fish. They are often found schooling together and most anglers can not tell the difference when they catch one of each. Black and white crappie are the same colors ranging from dark olive to black on top with silvery sides and black blotches and stripes. The pattern of the dark blotches is different. On Black crappie the spots are irregular and scattered. On white crappie clearly arranged into 7 to 9 vertical stripes. Black crappie have 7 or 8 dorsal spines and white crappie have only six.
Crappie Fishing Locations
Crappie are very prolific and will overpopulate a small lake very quickly. They can crowd out other species like bass and cause both species to be stunted. The Crappie’s original habitat was the eastern US into Canada but both the black crappie and the white crappie have been stocked all over the US and in many other countries. Black crappie need a slightly clearer, deeper lake or pond than white crappie but both species are found in ponds, lakes and rivers. White crappie tend to hold in more shallow water than black crappie.
Crappie Fishing Techniques
Crappie feed on small minnows and insects. The best baits for them are small minnows and jigs. The Crappie are highly regarded game fish and are often considered to be among the best tasting freshwater fish. Because of their diverse diets, crappie may be caught in many ways, including casting light jigs, trolling with minnows or artificial lures, using small spinnerbaits, or using bobbers. Crappie are also popular with ice-fishers, as they are active in winter.
Crappie Fishing Seasons
Because environmental conditions vary widely from one lake to the next, it is important to find the most productive season in your own locality and then concentrate your efforts during this period of peak activity. The most productive season for crappie fishing is during spring when fish movements are related to spawning. Depending upon which part of the state you fish, this will normally occur sometime in May when the water temperature ranges from 58 to 68 degrees F. Locating fish during the pre-spawn/spawn period will produce excellent stringers of fish. During early spring, crappies move into shallow water areas where the water temperature is rising rapidly.
When the water temperature and photoperiod (the length of daylight) are right, males move into the shallows near spawning sites and build bowl-shaped nests over gravel, sand, or even muck substrates. Spawning often takes place near the base of vegetation stands, so look carefully for emerging vegetation, such as bulrush or cattail. Although both males and females can be caught, catches are frequently dominated by males. They become extremely aggressive at spawning time and will often strike at a bait in an attempt to defend their nest. Crappies can be caught year round in some locations and are a popular choice for ice fishing in many locations during the winter.
Crappies are one of our most frequently caught panfish and they are exceedingly popular with anglers. To anyone that has caught a stringer of crappie, it is easy to understand the reason behind this popularity. They are a fish for all anglers. The method and equipment necessary to catch crappie are simple and inexpensive, and their nationwide distribution makes them accessible to nearly all anglers. Crappies are found in a large variety of waters including natural and man-made lakes, oxbow lakes, reservoirs, and small ponds. Although crappies prefer standing water, they are also found in moderate to large interior streams.