The name crappie can refer to either the white crappie, which is lighter in color with vertical black stripes, or the black crappie, which is darker with a pattern of black spots.
Both species are similar in size, shape and habits. The average crappie weighs between one-half and one pound and measures five to 12 inches, though they are capable of growing much larger.
Crappie are very social fish and form schools to live in.
Crappie spawn between May and June. During this time, the male fish will make an indented nest on the floor of shallow water. The female will then lay between 5,000 and 60,000 eggs. The eggs take approximately two to five days to hatch.
Crappie are fertile breeders and will over-populate small bodies of water very quickly if the population is not controlled.
Crappie are less active during the day; they feed mostly at dawn and dusk.
The Crappie is also known as the strawberry bass, speckled bass (or “specks”), calico bass, papermouth, and sauc-au-lait (translation “bag of milk”).
The largest crappie ever caught weighed six pounds.
Ideal spawning temperature is the low 60s. During spawning season, crappie and their nests will be in water approximately one to five feet deep.
Crappie have pure, flaky, white flesh that has earned them the reputation among anglers as the finest tasting freshwater fish.
Crappie occupy bodies of freshwater in which there are plenty of underwater brush, rocks and weeds to live in.
During the summer they live in deeper water, while in the spring shallower water.
Crappie have diverse diets. They primarily feed on smaller species of fish, including the young of their predators (like the Walleye and Northern Pike). Crappie also eat insects, crustaceans, and zooplankton.
Due to a diverse diet, sportsmen have many options when it comes to catching crappie. The best lures to use for crappie are small jigs.
If using live bait, make sure the hook is the correct size. If it is too small, the fish will get off of it. If it is too large, the fish will not be able to bite it.
– Image courtesy of the Minnesota DNR Web site