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Crappie Advice from Fish Resource Dot Com

Introduction to Crappie

Other names: speckled perch, calico bass, grass bass, speckled bass, speckled perch, strawberry bass, oswego bass, sacalait, sacalaitt, barfish, crawpie, bachelor perch, papermouth, shiner, moonfish.

Black Crappie

Crappies, or calico bass, are a widespread and popular pan fish. There are two types of North American crappiei - the black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) and the white crappie (Pomoxis annularis). Both varieties weigh about four to five pounds when mature and range from southern Manitoba south to the Mexican border.

Anglers will be happy to hear that fishing for crappies and eating the fillets actually helps create a healthy crappie population by preventing overcrowded areas of growth-stunted fish.

Crappie Distribution

Introduced all over North America, the original territory of the crappie likely spanned from Virginia to Florida, west to Texas, and from the St. Lawrence / Quebec / Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins south to the Mexican Gulf.

Crappie Habitat

Black crappie are found near vegetation in deeper/clearer/cooler water than white crappie. White crappie live in creek pools, slow-moving sand-and-mud bottomed streams and rivers, and shallower water in lakes. Crappie form schools and feed together near vegetated drop-offs, underwater debris and structure of all types.


Crappie are deep-bodied and laterally compressed fish with protruding lower lips and a depression on the forehead above the eye.

White Crappie

Count the dorsal fin spines to distinguish between the white and black crappies: black crappies have seven or eight, and the white crappie generally has only six.


Crappie are a silvery olive with dark spots arranged in several vertical lines across the body of the fish.

Breeding white crappie males change to a darker body colour and are often mistaken for black crappies; black crappie males, however, do not change colour during the spawning season.

Size of Crappie

Crappies usually weigh about 2 pounds or less but may reach 5 pounds.

Feeding Habits of Crappie

Crappies especially feed in the evenings and early mornings, on zooplankton, insects, crustaceans, fish, larvae and on small shad, minnows and sunfish. Crappie are known to eat their own young as well as other fish fry, and feed actively throughout the winter.


Spawning occurs in late spring or early summer when the water temperature reaches 65ºF. The female lays up to one hundred fifty thousand eggs in a shallow depression scraped on the floor in less than six feet of water. The parent fish protect the eggs until the fry hatch in less than a week. However, the parent fish are the first to feed on the fresh fry. The surviving fish grow two or three inches by the end of their first year, and some are nine inches long by the end of their second.

Mature crappies (2 to 6 years old) eat their own young, causing cycles of severe population decline. When few mature crappies populate the lakes, most of the young fish survive and the population thrives for the next few years. In small or overcrowded lakes crappies experience stunted growth. Many biologists support an unlimited bag limit for crappies to promote a healthy fish population.

Spring Crappie Fishing Techniques

During the spring spawn, fish the concentrations of crappies in the shallows. Use a sensitive fiberglass crappie pole with a bamboo handle instead of a reel. Often, anglers do not feel when a crappie has taken the bait. Gently lift and drop the line continually to hook these gentle biters. To find the fish, tie a No. 4 hook to the line, attach a small slip shot above the hook, and add a bobber somewhere on the line so that the hooked minnow swims near the bottom. Hook the minnow lightly under its back fin and direct it through the shallow reeds and underwater brush piles. Try inch-long minnows early in the season, switch to larger minnows as the season progresses, and use jigs in the summer.

Each body of water is different, but generally the north side of the lake warms more quickly than the south in early spring. Try the north shallows first, then after the spawn try the submerged reedy islands in the body of the lake. Map out the warmer waters of the lake to find the early spring crappies.

Summer Crappie Fishing Techniques

When the waters warm in the summer, crappies move to deeper water that has the same bottom cover as the shallows they frequent. Outside of the shallow bays, many fish gather together on the deep side of a drop-off in water six to twelve feet deep. Other places to look for elusive summer crappies are at the mouths of slow, narrow channels, at areas less than a hundred yards out from a fast-moving bay opening, or in the shallows at dawn and dusk where the crappies return to feed until early summer.

Search for large obstructions or rock piles in deep water, as well as weed beds and brush piles. Carefully fish rocky shelves ten to fifteen feet deep that have rock piles or a submerged tree. Since summer crappies follow schools of smaller fish, anglers should make note of where the smaller fish like to feed.

Summer crappie fishingi gear usually consists of an ultra-light spinning outfit or fly rod with a spinning reel. Slowly work a small (1/32 or 1/64 of an ounce) jig in white or yellow with a gold-wire hook. Yellow 1/4 ounce spinner baits work well for bigger crappies. Some anglers add a bobber to the line to maintain the jig at a desired depth. Anchor or drift in ten feet of water above the underwater structure and slowly jig the lure. Slowly reel the jig while only slightly twitching the rod tip, and tug the line at any hint of a bite.

Fall Crappie Fishing Techniques

In the fall, crappies move back to the shallow bays. Use the fiberglass pole and live minnows, or try ultra-light spinning tackle, a plastic casting bubble, and No. 6 or 8 artificial trout nymphs fished 40 inches below the bubble. Retrieve the lure at a pace fast enough to keep the line tense.

In man-made lakes the water level often fluctuates. The fish stop biting when the water level drops, but often reanimate with a vengeance once the levels rise. During an hour or so when the water rises, fish the shallow brushy areas with any bait or lure.

Experiment to find the right combination of depth, bottom cover and water temperature for clusters of crappies. Check new brush piles for big crappies and largemouth bass, and if the crappies aren't biting, try forcefully beating the pile with an oar or stick and then fish the pile again.

Winter Crappie Fishing Techniques

In the winter, catch the active crappie using light ice-jigging equipment with 4 pound-test monofilament line a No. 4 hook. Use a live 2-inch minnow bait on a No. 4 hook and one split shot: place a split shot one foot above the minnow (hooked lightly beneath its back fin) and fish the setup at varying depths. Prepare for a very gentle bite, then set the hook and reel in the tasty, white, flaky meal.


Thanks for stopping by We are the site dedicated to crappie fishingi. We bring you tips and techniques from crappie country's top pros and the everyday fisherman not to mention the most complete information on crappie lakes from all around the country.

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