It’s a Crappie Job, But Somebody’s Gotta Do it

What is the difference between a White Crappie and a Black Crappie?

     Many people are confused about what kind of crappie they have landed. The fact that in many areas their habitats overlap, and inter-breeding occurs only compounds the confusion.

     There are two species of crappie in the U.S. The Black Crappie (Pomoxus nigromaculatus), and the White Crappie (Pomoxus annularis) Their habits are almost identical, except the Black Crappie tends to inhabit clearer water and has more of an affinity for weed beds than the White Crappie. Their spawning and feeding habits are so similar that oftentimes they will inter-breed and school together where their ranges overlap.

     Their original habitat was the Eastern U.S. into Canada, but they have since been stocked all over the U.S., Canada and overseas. Black Crappie prefer a clearer, deeper lake than the White Crappie, but both can be found in stock ponds, rivers and lakes. White crappie tends to hold in slightly shallower water than the Black Crappie.

     Both species are very similar in size, coloration and markings. One reliable feature to differentiate the species are the dorsal spines. White Crappie have 6, Black Crappie have 7 or 8. In coloration, both range from dark olive to black on top, fading to light slivery sides with black blotches. The Black Crappie has irregular blotches scattered randomly along the sides, giving it a speckled appearance, while the White Crappie’s blotches are clearly lined up as evenly spaced, vertical bars. The Black Crappie tends to grow slightly larger.

Hybrids can contain any, or all of the characteristics of both parents.

They all taste the same and make wonderful table-fare.


Happy Fishing


Dan Eggertsen is a fellow crappie fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on crappie fishing since 2004.

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