The Crappie species, made up of the White Crappie and Black Crappie, is a freshwater species native to North America.
What is a Crappie Fish?
The Crappie (Poxomis) is a freshwater fish that is part of the Sunfish family, a family that includes 34 species total. The White Crappie (Poxomis annularis) and Black Crappie (Poxomis nigromaculatus) are both included under the Crappie umbrella.
Why is it Called a Crappie?
The American English version of this fish’s name is actually derived from the French Canadian word “crapet,” which is an umbrella word for many members of the Sunfish family. Crappies are also known locally as speckled bass, papermouth, calico bass, strawberry bass or sauc-au-lait. In Louisiana, they call the Crappie sacalait, a derivative of the Choctaw work sakli.
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What Type of Fish is a Crappie?
As stated above, Crappies are part of the Sunfish family, meaning they fit the bill when it comes to having hard, rayed fins. These fish are also considered panfish; their deep bodies, size, and shape make them perfect for frying up in a pan.
What Does a Crappie Look Like?
Overall, Crappies can vary in color by being very light or very dark. Coloration in itself isn’t a good way to tell the two distinct types of Crappie apart. However, both fish have vertically rounded bodies. Their dorsal fins are sharp and rayed.
Let’s get into how to tell the White and Black Crappie apart.
What is the Difference Between a Black Crappie and White Crappie?
Unfortunately a quick glance isn’t very helpful in telling these two types of Crappie apart. They can be light or dark, but both have distinct markings and characteristics. Telling the difference between a black crappie and a white crappie can be easy if you know what to look for.
The Black Crappie has 7-8 dorsal spines (along their back) and irregular, dark blotches on their body.
The White Crappie has 5-6 dorsal spines and a more compressed body, with dark bars running along it instead of blotches.
Crappies can thrive in ponds, lakes, rivers, creeks – pretty much any fresh water source that is less than 12 feet deep. Habitat varies by type, too, so let’s break this down into black and white:
Black Crappies like hiding in vegetation and will stay in clear, calm water. They migrate toward shade.
White Crappies don’t mind cloudy water, but will stay in clear water as well. They’ll swim in open, sunlit water, but prefer doing so in the morning and evening. During the day when it’s bright out and temperatures are higher, White Crappie will congregate around structures in the water and shallow areas.
Where Can I Find Crappie Fish?
Originally this species was only native to the eastern part of the United States and Canada. However, it became so loved by anglers that they quickly stocked water sources throughout North America. Now you can find Crappie in almost any fresh water source on the continent. The White Crappie is easier to come across than the Black Crappie.
What Do Crappie Eat?
This is definitely not a picky fish, which isn’t surprising considering their wide range. Crappie prey on insects, insect larvae, small fish, crustaceans, crayfish – pretty much any live bait that catches their attention and that they can fit in their mouths.
How to Catch a Crappie Fish?
Crappie aren’t particularly hard to catch since they’ll eat almost anything that comes their way. However, anglers have noted over the years that these fish tend to prefer plastic jigs and lures that mimic grubs. Ultralight jigs are a great option as they’ll allow you to simulate the action of live prey without disturbing the water too much.
Ice fishing is also a popular spot across the northern parts of the country that see weather cold enough to freeze water sources, and there are crappie ice fishing lures made specifically for this sport!
Best Crappie Fishing Rigs?
The classic float rig is a great option for Crappies as it can be used at pretty much any depth as long as you pre-set where you want the bobber to stop on the line. These rigs also allow fishermen to mimic live bait with great action.
The Mule Jig is undeniably a favorite of anglers everywhere, and for good reason. This jig pairs well with almost any bait; especially soft plastics. If you’re looking to try out some grub bodies for catching crappie, check out getting set up with a Mule Jig. Just make sure you go for a larger size as these fish have surprisingly big mouths!
Jig spinners are attention-grabbers that no fish can ignore. They can be added to soft plastics, so they’re a good option for adding some flash to your basic bait-especially if you’re fishing in a populated area.
Best Crappie Fishing Lures?
Mule Fishing Mule Minnow
We (and many others) love the Mule Minnow because it just gets the job done. This is a stretchy, durable little plastic bait that mimics baitfish, which the Crappie regularly go after. Mule Minnows come in a few different colors and pair well with ultralight fishing gear.
The Crappie Magnet, made by Trout Magnet, is specifically designed to target this species. This lure is designed to look like a split tail grub; one of their favorites. You can buy Crappie Magnets in kits or smaller sets of 12 pieces, and in a variety of colors.
Bobby Garland Baby Shad
The Baby Shad design is so simple, it’s genius. The body is shaped in such a perfectly realistic way that you’ll get great action no matter how you use this bait. The thin tail dances as reeled in or jigged, and the amount of colors offered is staggering.
Johnson Beetle Bou
Unlike the other options on our lure list, the Beetle Bou uses fine feathers to mimic bait and draw the attention of all the fish in the area. The hooks are gold plated, a favorite of crappie fishermen, and the recent addition of chrome tinsel supplies even more lifelike action when reeling.
What Kind of Gear Do You Need for Crappie Fishing?
When it comes to Crappie fishing, you’ll want to pack light-ultralight. These fish aren’t huge, so you don’t really need line or a rod that can take a beating. However what you do need to concern yourself is making sure your gear can simulate live bait. You don’t want a bad casting reel to snag and make your lure jerk around, scaring off the crowd.
What is a Good Crappie Fishing Kit?
Crappie Magnet Kit
Leland Lures is a company known for curating the perfect kits for different species. Their Crappie kit is designed to attract all the right kind of attention. It comes with 96 different soft plastic split tail bodies in a variety of colors, including curly tailed options, 15 double cross jig heads, and 4 E-Z floats to create your float rig.
What is a Good Crappie Fishing Rod?
13 Fishing Omen Panfish & Trout Series Spinning Rod
13 Fishing’s Omen Panfish Trout rod is geared toward smaller game, meaning you won’t be lugging around a heavy rod that can’t handle light action. This rod is known for its sensitivity and ease of use with light tackle. It comes in both light and ultralight options, but we like the 6’9” light action rod for Crappie fishing specifically.
What is a Good Crappie Fishing Reel?
Pflueger President’s spinning reel is loved by both experts and beginners in the fishing world. It has a 10 bearing, anti-reverse system for smooth use and a durable body made of aluminum and graphite. Happy customers keep coming back to this brand for the strong drag and smooth reeling action.
What is the Best Fishing Line for Crappie?
We’ve chosen two lines because we just can’t pick one: the Daiwa J-Braid Chartreuse hi-viz braid and Seaguar Basix 4lb Fluorocarbon.
Seaguar Basix Fluorocarbon
With the Basix 4lb, Seaguar has created a nearly invisible line that casts easily. It has medium abrasion resistance, which is perfect for Crappie since they’re not really looking to saw through the line.
Daiwa J-Braid Grand x8 Braided Line Chartreuse
Daiwa’s J-Braid, in a stunning chartreuse, will stand out no matter what conditions you’re fishing in. This is a light line woven from 8 strands and is known to be soft and smooth to the touch. You can get it in an 8lb weight option at the lowest, so that’s what we’d suggest for Crappie fishing.
When do Crappie Spawn?
Crappie spawn in the spring, so break out your spring crappie lures! This will likely be the easiest time to catch them as they congregate to find mates. Nests will be in shallow water ranging from 1-5 feet deep. The ideal water temps for Crappies at this time will be anywhere from 68-70 degrees F.
How Big Do Crappie Get?
The average size of a Crappie is roughly 10 inches, which makes them the middle-ground of the Sunfish family. These fish can get surprisingly big, but 10 inches is still the perfect panfish size.
What Size Crappie is a Keeper?
This is a hot topic of debate among anglers. In general, any fish from 9-10” is considered a keeper in this species, especially if you’re looking to use them for food.
What is the World Record Crappie?
The IGFA has divided world records for Crappies into the Black and White category.
Black Crappie World Record: 5 lb 7 oz, caught by Lionel Ferguson on May 15, 2018 in Tennessee
White Crappie World Record: 5 lb 3 oz, caught by Fred Bright on July 31, 2957 in Mississippi
What is the Lifespan of a Crappie?
Depending on what kind of water source and what area Crappie live in, they can reach 15 years – the longest reported age for this species. However, the average lifespan is closer to 7 years, with maturity being reach at 2-4 years.
Are Crappie Good to Eat?
Crappie are considered good to eat by many fishermen, however some find the flaky white meat a little bland.
What is Fizzing a Crappie?
Fizzing is done to help release excess gas from the swim bladder of a fish. When there’s too much gas in a swim bladder, fish can float to the surface of their water source and die. Alternatively, fish brought up from very deep areas – usually 20 feet or more – their bladder can expand too quickly.
“Fizzing” refers to carefully poking a hole with a hollow needle into the swim bladder to relieve pressure. Don’t take this on without watching some videos of the pros doing it and learning the basic anatomy of a fish.
Do White and Black Crappie Crossbreed?
Yes, White and Black Crappie can and often do crossbreed. This results in a fish that shares features of both types, so don’t be surprised if you catch a Crappie and can’t tell what type it is.
Are Crappie a Type of Bass?
No, Crappie and Bass are two very different fish. However, Bass are also considered Sunfish, so they’re related.
Whether you’re fishing for crappies intentionally or just happened to come upon a school, this species is great for game fishing. Active year round, Crappie fishermen often love venturing out on the ice – so if you’re up for a new adventure, try catching some Crappie this winter!
How to Catch Crappie
Learning how to catch crappie is more learning how to find crappie. In this post we show you how to find them all year round.
Best Best Crappie Reel for Any Situation
Check out our guide and choose the best crappie reel a successful trip. We spent years building this guide to give you the best tips.