Crappie Traits

All About Crappie

Crappie Traits


One of the move sought after game fish on the North American continent is the Crappie.  Crappie taste great at the dinner table, and are a blast to catch – especially when using superlight tackle.

The Differences Between White Crappie & Black Crappie

There are two species of Crappie.  The White Crappie whose scientific name is Pomoxis annularis, and  the Black Crappie whose scientific name is Pomoxis nigromaculatus.

White and Black Crappie typically inhabit the same water bodies.  But Black Crappies are more commonly found in the Northern part of the US, while the White Crappie is more prevalent in the Southern US.

Many people often mistake which type of Crappie they have caught.  Although it sounds as if color would be the determining factor, that is not a 100% true method of determining the difference.

Black Crappies will have 7 or 8 spines on their dorsal fins and are a bit thicker bodied than the White Crappie are who will have only 5 – 6 spines.  Another telling difference is that the specks on the White Crappie form vertical bars on the side of the fish, while the specks on a Black Crappie are more in a random manor.

There are also Hybrid Crappie, which are a mix of the White and Black Crappie.  Some refer to these as Gray Crappie.

Crappie Size

The typical Crappie is anywhere between 1/2 -1 lb.  If you are able to catch a 2 or 3 pounder, then you’ve caught yourself a big old “slab”.

Black Crappie tend to be a bit heavier than White Crappie of the same length due to the thickness of their bodies.  The Black Crappie also have a slower growth rate than the White ones do.

Currently the world record Black Crappie is an even 6 lb taken from Westwego Canal, Louisiana back in 1969 and the record White Crappie is a 5 pound 3 ounce caught in Enid Lake, Mississippi in 1957.


Crappies spawn in the Spring when the water temperatures hit around 55 – 60 degrees.  Spawning activity may begin as early as early February in the Southern US, but be as last as late May – June in the Northern states.

Males typically will turn very dark during the spawn.  They use their tails to build the nest for the female.  The females are usually larger and may lay more than 150,000 eggs.

Males will be very aggressive at this time and will strike most anything that approaches the nest.  Once the eggs hatch, the male remains to guard the nest.

Life Span of Crappie

Most crappie live to about the age of 5, but the maximum is about 8 years.  Crappie become sexually mature at the age of 2 or 3.

What do Crappie Eat?

Crappie primarily feed on small fish such as threadfin shad.  They may also feed on aquatic insects and tiny crawdads.

Crappie Hideouts

Crappie love to hang close to structure of some sort be it a fallen or submerged tree, underwater ledge, rocks, a point, marina docks, or many other types of structure.  If you find good structure in a water body, chances are good that you can find a Crappie there.

In the Spring, you will find them in the shallow water during the spawn.  Once they spawn, and during the pre-spawn, they will usually stage just beyond the first drop.  Try around 10 ft of water as a beginning point to look for them at this time.

During the Summer months they will move around.  Early in the morning you may catch them close to shore, but as the day progresses, they will move deeper.  On lakes where the thermocline sets up, you will have to fish in the oxygenated zone in order to find them.

Since Crappies feed primarily on minnows and threadfin shad, if you can find a ball of baitfish, chances are the Crappie will be in the area.

Nicknames for Crappie

Crappie have many nicknames which include slabs, specs, white perch, speckled perch, specks, papermouths, sac-a-lait, and calico bass just to name a few.

These nicknames vary by different parts of the country, so if you are asking the locals where to catch some….you better just call them Crappie.