Crappie Fish For Beginners: Learn Everything!

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There are many types of crappies who live in the seas; their common names are white crappie, black crappie, speckled bass, paper mouths, strawberry bass, Oswego bass, calico bass, white perch, and sac-a-lait.

Crappies are panfish which means that they have bodies that are compacted in lateral slabs. They are primarily seen in two different variations, black and white.

Both these types of fish have a very long upper jaw and reach the middle of the eye. The top portion of the head is concaved.

The dorsal fin of crappie is connected and has no notch between them. The anal fins are also as long as the dorsal fins. White crappies have six spines, but the black crappies have more fins.

Adult crappies eat smaller fish (even the fish which hunt them when they are older). Some of the predators which they eat are northern pike, walleyes, muskellunge, and largemouth bass. The small things they eat are crustaceans, insects, and zooplankton.

What Is A Crappie?

Crappie fish are a part of the sunfish family, and they are one of the biggest panfish to catch. They are the most significant part of the sunfish family.

The male crappies are the ones who do the job which a female usually does. Even though the crappies are not as popular as the largemouth bass or the rainbow trout, they are still precious.

The crappies are famous for being the tastiest species of fish that are found in the freshwater.

Their flesh is light red and has a very little fishy taste. Its taste is why some people don’t like to eat them because people prefer a more pungent flavor.

image crappie fish inside the water

Crappies can be fished in various ways because they have different diets, and they can be found in different sea areas. They can be fished with artificial lures, spinnerbaits, bobbers, casting flies, or minnows.

Crappies are originally from the habitat of the United States and Canada. But they have been kept in the United States and a lot of other countries.

But, today, the range in which crappie are found are in California, the Atlantic coast, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, New Mexico, and Utah (some variations of crappies are found almost everywhere except Hawaii and Alaska).

They are more easily found in ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers, which really excite the anglers.

A study in 2014, which was held by the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks in Lake Washington, counted the caught crappies during the fishing season.

They also conducted studies that studied crappie’s habitat and addressed the concerns that arise during crappie fishing.

Crappies are very delicious and extremely fun to catch while you are fishing in freshwaters. Black and white crappies are identified by their colors (matching the names they have).

But, the color can vary regarding being white or black (they can be light white or light black).

Crappies have the potential to grow big and weigh up to 5.5 pounds. Some species of crappies stay small, but then some species grow into huge fish. The biggest crappie was caught in May 2006, which was 19 inches long and weighed almost 5.3 pounds.

It was caught in Mississippi, but instead of being sold for its meat, the fish was relocated to ‘Pro Shop Aquarium’ in Springfield, and millions of people came to see it.

Related readings:

Bluegill Fish 101 – Complete Guide
Bass Fish 101: Facts, Habitat, Bass Spawn
Catfish 101: Facts, Tips, Information, And Habit
Perch Fish 101: Discover How To Identify And Tips To Catch!
Trout 101: Biography, Complete Diet, And Interesting Facts!

Crappie Facts

Crappies are fascinating fish, and there are many exciting facts about them that will help you fish them quickly if you know. Here are some remarkable, shocking, and cool crappie facts for you!

Image of the Crappie Fish
  • The white crappie fish are longer in size as compared to the black crappie fish. But, the black crappies are wider and weigh more than the white crappies, even if they have the same length.
  • The average size of crappie (either black or white) is 10 to 11 inches. However, the longest crappie fish to be ever caught was an exceptional case! It was almost 19.5 inches long and black in color.
  • Crappies live a maximum of seven to eight years. But, there was one black crappie fish that broke all records and lived up to 15 years.
  • Different crappies are identified from their fins. If you look at the anal fins of white crappie, they have six pointy spines. But, at the same time, the anal fins of black crappie have no spines at all.
  • The black crappies have around eight sharp spines on the dorsal fins, but the white crappies have around six sharp spines on their dorsal fins.
  • Most crappies have two rows of many conical teeth which are called the ‘cardiform.’ They are called cardiform because they resemble the tool for wool carding.
  • The main difference between white and black crappies is that black crappies prefer to live in deep, clean ponds and lakes with a lot of marine vegetation.
  • White crappies prefer to live in rivers and streams, which are slow-moving; they also prefer shallow waters for a living.
  • The best time to catch crappies is early morning and evening. This is because these are the feeding times for the crappies. They enjoy eating and feeding in darkness.
  • A very unusual time to feed for crappies is 2 am.
  • The favorite food for crappies is the juvenile fish and the minnows. The black crappies like to eat crustaceans and insects compared to white crappies. Black crappies will even go to the surface to eat their favorite insects.
  • The area where you will find the most crappie fish are the bushes and marine vegetation areas. This is because these areas have the most minnows, small fish, and even insects.
  • Crappies are also famous for being one of the fish which eat their predators when those predators are small fish. Some of the predators which they joyfully eat are bass fish, northern pike, walleyes, and muskellunge.
  • Crappies are one of the biggest-sized freshwater fish. They have a forward and upward area above their nose. Because of this advantage, they can hunt for their feed above and in front of them.
  • The black crappies are purely freshwater species. They live in temperate and warm waters, especially during the spawning season.
  • The black crappies (especially) are considered recreational fish. People and anglers go out to catch these fish for fun and enjoyment.
  • The officials responsible for fishing ensure that anglers don’t overfish the crappies because they would very quickly turn into extinct species. There is a chance that they could go extinct because it is very easy to catch the black crappies.
  • Crappies are known for being nest builders, and they build their nest during the spawning season when the waters are warm.

These were some of the most interesting facts about crappies. Now, we will discuss some other things about these fish.

What Does Crappie Eat?

Crappies have a very diverse diet, and they feed on various marine creatures apart from their usual diet. So if we talk about a fisher’s perspective, anglers need to know what crappie fish like to eat because it can help them catch the crappies.

But if we talk about people who just have an interest in fish, then they need to learn everything they can about crappies as any new information can contribute to their interest.

Crappies enjoy eating small baitfish like shiner, minnows, small bluegills, and marine invertebrates like crayfish, larvae, shrimps, insects, etc.

image of multiple fishing lures and rod

They also like to feed on land insects (but once in a while) like moths, grasshoppers, worms, and many other insects. However, crappies are incredibly selective of what they eat compared to other panfish like yellow perch or bluegills.

Crappie fish are fierce fighters and insatiable eaters. We can say that their life depends on their love for eating. They have larger mouths compared to their bodies which aid them in consuming prey bigger in size.

Even though they eat and enjoy many things, the favorite food of crappie fish is minnows.

Crappies are also one of the fish in the world that eat their predators when the predators are small fish. The predators that they eat include walleyes, pikes, bass fish, etc.

Their diet is still being studied, and maybe it will reveal something new and exciting about how crappie fish eat and what they like to eat.

When And How Do Crappie Spawn?

The process of crappie spawning is very interesting. The black crappies usually get ready to spawn when the waters become warm (around 62 to 65 degrees.

But the white crappies typically get ready to spawn when the water becomes warmer, about 66 to 70 degrees. Thus, they spawn in peak summers.

image of crappie fish caught with fishing rod

The male crappie fish is responsible for building a nest for the female crappie fish (black crappies or white crappies). They make the nest on the bottom of the sea by flapping their fins and fanning their bodies to carve a bowl-like opening at the bottom.

The nest is at the bottom of the sea, but it is not in deep waters. Instead, they make their nest in shallow waters, and the depth of that nest is 2 to 5 meters deep.

Once the nest is made, the black female crappie fish will lay the eggs in that nest, and they can lay around 140,000 eggs in the nest. On the other hand, a white female crappie fish can lay around 200,000 eggs!

After the female lays the eggs, they leave the nest for good, and then the male crappie steps in to guard their unborn babies with their lives. Male crappies will belligerently guard their nests until the eggs hatch.

The eggs take up to 5 days to hatch, and once the fish come out of the eggs, they initially feed on the zooplankton. As they grow, they start to change their diet and move towards bigger feed like insects, minnows, and other small marine life.

White Crappie Vs. Black Crappie

They are both parts of the same sunfish family, but they are still pretty different. Let us take a look at the difference between white crappies and black crappies.

White Crappie vs Black Crappie

Black Crappies:

  • Black crappies are found in the freshwaters of North America. They tread in low currents, taking shelter under a timer, weeds, and marine vegetation.
  • They weigh around two pounds when they have become full adults, and they also develop a dark-colored (black) pattern, which is different from white crappies.
  • The size of black crappie is usually found to be between 5 to 10 inches, but they can grow bigger than that. The largest crappie, which was caught in Mississippi, was almost 19 inches long.
  • It is safe to say that black crappies can measure anywhere from 5 to 19 inches.
  • Black crappie usually weighs half to one pound. But, in some instances, they have also weighed around four pounds.
  • The weight of black crappies depends on where they are and what their activity level is.
  • Black crappie fish usually feeds in the dark hours, which means that they either feed in the morning before sunrise or in the evening when the sunsets.
  • The best time to fish for black crappies is early in the morning or late at night.
  • Black crappies are quick to reproduce. During the spawning season, the population of black crappies increases significantly in lakes and rivers.
  • Female black crappie lays almost 140,000 to 180,000 eggs.
  • The habitat of black crappies is near large rivers, water reservoirs, lakes, etc. They prefer to live in clean waters with a low-velocity water body. They also love the sandy bottoms which are found in freshwaters.
  • Black crappies live up to seven years. But, they mature at around four years.

White Crappies:

  • White crappies are found in the freshwaters of North America. They have a similar weight to black crappies, but they are longer than the. Apart from this, they are found in a large school near heavy marine vegetation and rocks.
  • White crappies are usually measured between 10 to 15 inches.
  • White crappies weigh the same as black crappies, but they rarely can grow more than that. The most a white crappy has weighted up till now is 5 pounds.
  • Baby white crappies usually feed on small insects and planktons. But, the adult white crappies feed on crayfish, minnows, and bass fish.
  • The spawning time for white crappies is May to June. They prefer warm waters (near 56 to 70 degrees). White female crappies lay around 200,000 eggs in one season. Their population is also abundant during the spawning season.
  • White crappies are usually found in water reservoirs, huge rivers, lakes, and still waters. But unlike the black crappies, they can survive in muddy waters and live in waters with low velocity (like pools).
  • During the early morning hours, white crappies can be found in open waters, but they stay in the dark parks of the seas during the day.
  • White crappies live longer than black crappies; their life expectancy is up to 9 years.

Can You Eat The Crappie?

Yes, you can most definitely eat crappies. They are safe to eat, and it is one of the tastiest panfish to eat. Millions of people enjoy eating crappies, but some people don’t like the taste of crappie as they have a mild taste.

Crappies are very high in fat and protein. They are also great in nutritional value. Even though the fish are smaller than other fishes which the anglers catch, they are between 2 to 3 lbs. on average.

The small sunfish species, the crappies, have a very different type of diet. Their diet usually consists of crustaceans and insects. They sometimes also eat the babies of their predators, like walleyes or bass fish.

image of the person cutting the crappie fish

But, they don’t eat enough insects, which might be dangerous for us humans due to containment.

But, many people have no idea how to prepare crappie. But, there are many ways to cook crappie. Here is how you can prepare crappie for cooking.

Crappie is easy to clean the gut for cooking, and you can do it directly once you fish it from the river if you have a little experience. All you will need is a knife and an idea of the anatomy of the crappie.

Then, you can cook your crappie fish as a fillet, and it will taste great when fried in the skillet.

When you prepare the whole crappie for cooking, you need to cut through each side of the dorsal fin and then rip the root out carefully.

Next, clean the scales off the fish and then cut it diagonally to remove its head, guts, and ribs in one cut. The tale can be left off because once cooked, and they are crunchy and delicious.

To make a fillet cut behind the gills and near the head, cut until you reach the backbone, keep your knife horizontally so that the blade is towards the tail, and run it across the whole backbone.

How Long Does Crappie Live?

We can’t put a pin on how long the crappies live. But, the average crappie lives from 4 to 7 years. The age and growth of crappies solely depend on the food they eat, and if they survive on the bare minimum, they might not live long.

But, if they have a good diet and have everything they like to eat, then their life span may increase, and they may live longer. Generally, white crappies have a shorter life than black crappies.

image of the crappie fish caught with the hook

The oldest recorded age of white crappie was eight years, but the oldest recorded age of black crappie was 15 years. It was the oldest black crappie ever to live and was caught in Mississippi.

Crappies mature at an early age (around 3 to 4 years). So they can be fished at a pretty early age. Mostly, the crappies caught are aged five years, so they have great meat for cooking and eating.

How To Catch Crappie?

Crappie is one of the most delicious dishes in America. It is so loved that it is Minnesota’s favorite fish in all seasons. But, before you can dig in your crappie with a knife and fork, you need to learn how to catch crappies.

It is incredibly easy and interesting to catch crappies, and this is because there are various ways to choose from. Some standard techniques include a minnow on a bobber, jigs made of soft plastic, or a beetle lure.

image of the Black crappie fish

Insect-based baits are ideal for catching crappies because the favorite feed of crappies is insects like zooplanktons and minnows. Small jigs are the most common baits which are used to catch crappies. It is a fantastic lure and is also easy to use.

You need to tie it on a rod and cast it in the river or pond. For example, if you have a 1/8 ounce, 1/16 ounce, or 1/32 ounce jig, then it will easily fall towards the bottom of the lake, and then you will have to reel it up so that your jig moves and attracts the fish.

The beetle spin bait and the spinner lures are also ideal for fishing the crappies. Because they are flashy like the colorful insects that crappies eat, and they attract them in the waters.

You should know about crappies because they have an incredibly soft mouth, so the bait and lures you use should be soft enough for them to bite into.

Apart from this, whenever you feel even the slightest bite on the lure, then reel the fish back slowly, don’t be hasty as quick motion can tear through the fish’s mouth and cause it pain. Be gentle and steady in your action.

How To Identify A Crappie?

It is very easy to identify crappies. By now, you must have known that there are basically only two types of crappies; white crappies and black crappies.

Both these crappies have the same basic body structure, but they are different in skin color, fins, life span, reproduction rate, size, habitat, etc.

Black crappies, according to their name, are black, have a longer body, and have 7-8 dorsal sharp spines. But, on the other hand, the white crappies have a compressed and broad body with 5-6 dorsal sharp spines.

Apart from this, an easy way to recognize crappies is to look at their habitats; the black crappies can only survive in clean waters. But, the white crappies can survive in murky waters.

They both feed on more or less the same thing, but the thing that differentiates them from each other is their life span. Black crappies can live up to 9 years. But, white crappie has a shorter life and can live up to 7 years.

Crappie Fishing Tips

If you are thinking about catching crappie on your next fishing trip, you will need a few useful tips to catch them. Due to this reason, we have compiled some tips and tricks to catch crappies.

image of a person holding the crappie from mouth
  • Crappie is all-season fish. But, when the seasons are at their peak, crappies come to the river channels or the lake’s basin. So, when you go out to fish at the peak of the season, you know where to look.
  • Always try to use a sonar fish finder to find your crappies because sometimes, due to the motor of your boat or ship, crappies go into the deep waters and hide there.
  • You can fish crappies with any reel and any rod, so choose the rod which fits your needs and which you like the most because fishing is a sport that requires peace and can only be done when you are at ease with your equipment.
  • Buy the basic fishing pole made of fiberglass or graphite because these poles are trusty and suitable for catching crappies.
  • Always carry a well-equipped tackle box. If you want to catch crappie, your tackle box needs to have colorful baits and lures that exclusively attract the crappies.
  • Ensure that you have soft baits because the crappie’s mouth is very soft, and they can easily bite on soft bait.
  • Make sure that your tackle box is waterproof and easy to use, also; buy the box which has a removable bait box.
  • Try to buy the fishing hooks, which are easily bendable to remove from the fish’s mouth. My personal favorite is the eagle claw fishing hook which is very thin and flexible to use.
  • There is fishing slip float and fishing bobbers available, especially for crappies which, once cast, will tell you whether or not your fish has eaten the bait.
  • Floats and bobbers also add weight to your cast, so even if your bait is small and light-weighted, it will stay in the water and won’t float on the surface.

These were some of the tips to catch crappies, and hopefully, they will help you when you go out to fish for crappies.

Final Verdict:

We have compiled everything important about the crappies. You can use this as a guide to learn more about crappie fish, their habitat, and life. Also, at the end of this article, I hope now you can better understand the difference between the white and black crappies as well.

Crappies are one of the most popular fish types in the United States so every angler should know each and everything about their fish before going for fishing.

Frequently Asked Questions

#1 – Are crappie fish good to eat?

Yes, crappies are incredibly tasty to eat. They have a mild taste in their flesh which most people enjoy. No fish can match the flavor and tenderness of freshly caught crappie fish.

However, there are also some people who think that fish should not have such a mild taste (that means they don’t like crappies).

#2 – Where do crappie fish live?

Crappies usually live in the backwaters, lakes, ponds, streams, and sloughs. However, they prefer darker areas like heavy marine vegetation, fallen big boulders, fallen trees, or cavities.

They form a school over sand or mud near vegetation. Black crappies prefer to live in clean waters, but white crappies can live easily in murky waters.

#3 – What attracts crappie fish?

The things that attract crappie fish are live minnows (as they are their favorite feed and main food source for the crappies), colorful and soft jigs, and many different styled lures, small insects, worms, and small fish.

These things are the best way to attract crappie to your bait instantly.

#4 – What is the best month to catch crappie?

Crappie is a fish which you can catch all year long, and there is no one month to catch them. But, in the summer-spring season, there are many crappies near the surface because it is when they spawn.

So, you can find a lot of crappies in one area, and that will lead you to catch a lot of them in a single trip.

#5 – What size crappie can you keep?

There is no size limit on the size of crappies. You can keep crappie which is 10 inches long and three years old. But you can also keep 7-inch long crappie which is four years old.

The rules of keeping crappie depend on the state or area you live in. You can learn about your state rules from the fishing department.

#6 – Why is crappie so good?

The main reason why crappies taste so good is that they have a diverse diet. They will eat anything and everything in their habitat. This is what makes their meat so delicious and tender.

#7 – How deep should I fish for crappie?

The best depth to fish for crappie is almost 3 to 6 feet deep. It is not the depth that you should worry about because the crappies will hide under many covers.

Try to fish for them in areas where you see the possibility of cover. Use your lures and baits near river beds and trees to lure the crappies out.

#8 – What are crappie biting on now?

Crappies love to bite on worms, minnows, insects, and almost anything which will catch their attention. The bait’s color doesn’t matter because crappies would bite into anything as long as it attracts their attention.

#9 – What temperature does crappie start spawning at?

Crappies start to spawn when the waters are warm. So, when the temperature is around 50 to 60 degrees, this is when the crappies start to prepare for reproduction and spawn.

#10 – What’s another name for crappie fish?

There are many other names for crappies. Some of the most common names are strawberry bass, paper mouths, speckled bass, perch, crappie bass, white perch, Oswego bass, calico bass, and speckled perch.

Crappies are known by these names in different parts of the world.

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  • Since 2009 I've been writing on different media portals about fishing. Here on this website, it's time to share those experiences I've witnessed in my entire life so far. Let me help you get the best stuff you need while fishing.

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