One of the most popular game fish in the US, crappie have made quite the name for themselves as a tasty treat for fishermen across the country. However, they are also prized for the crappie eggs which are also sought-after by those who enjoy the taste. To catch the crappie eggs, it’s important to know more about this game fish and its spawning habits.
Most crappie are found in the eastern US along with Canada, although thanks to transplantation you can find crappie in the 48 contiguous states, leaving only Alaska and Hawaii without this particular fish. Crappie are one of the most popular game fish for several reasons, but they are quite abundant, relatively easy to catch, and quite tasty when properly prepared.
There are two types of crappie, black and white, although the differences are superficial relating to the color pattern. Generally speaking, black crappie are darker than white crappie and have a series of black spots which gives them their name. Otherwise, they are basically the same.
A typical crappie will weigh from ½ to one pound and reach from five to twelve inches when becoming an adult. Like many fish of its type, crappie are quite social and often swim in schools. It is during this time as adult that they will spawn and create crappie eggs.
Crappie Eggs and Spawning
Around the months of May to June, the crappie will spawn with a single female laying from 5,000 up to 60,000 eggs over that time. It begins with the male fish creating a nest on the floor of the stream, river, or creek in shallow water from one to five feet down. The indented nest is designed to keep the eggs in one place when the female crappie deposits them.
Once the crappie eggs are in place, the male will fertilize the eggs and then both fish will generally stay nearby until the eggs start hatching which takes from two to five days. The sheer number of eggs is because there are predators who feast on them, so crappie tend to lay a considerable number. Without predators, crappie will tend to overpopulate an area quickly.
Although small, the sheer number of crappie eggs makes them something of a delicacy depending on the location. Because the nests are located in shallow water and there may be many crappie nests around, it is relatively easy to scoop up the eggs if you have the right equipment.
Most people will fry or scramble the crappie eggs, which need to be thoroughly cooked to get the full flavor. Because the crappie only spawn during a six to eight-week period, the availability of fresh crappie eggs tends to be during the months of May and June.
The sheer number of crappie and the many eggs that a single female can produce ensures their survival even in hostile waters. This is because predators usually cannot cover all the nests that the crappie will make and after hatching, the young crappie disperse which makes them harder to catch.