Like all fish, crappie are creatures of habit. Over many thousands of years, crappie have developed habits which have helped them to stay alive and grow as a species in the streams, lakes, and rivers mostly found in the eastern United States. Their resilience and ability to produce tremendous numbers of offspring have helped them grow in population considerably when they have been moved to the rest of the US and Canada.
There are two main types, black crappie and white crappie. While each is quite similar, there are some subtle differences in their habits which are worth noting. What follows are some of their better-known habits which will help you catch more of them. The good news is that crappie are fairly easy to catch if you know where to look.
Both types of crappie will weigh about two pounds when reaching maturity, although some might reach five pounds depending on the available food in the area. They will also grow up to six inches, sometimes longer again depending on what type of food is nearby.
This may be the biggest single difference between black crappie and white crappie as they live in two different places. While both types tend to live in and around vegetation, the black crappie tend to be in deeper, cooler, and clearer water compared to white crappie. This makes black crappie a little easier to see when searching the creeks and streams.
Crappie tend to live together in schools, making them even easier to spot, and will feed together near vegetation areas. You’ll also find them around underwater structures and debris of different types. You’ll find that both types live in creek pools with slow-moving water. Sandy, mud-bottomed streams and rivers are excellent places to find crappie along with the shallow water in lakes.
Most crappie will feed in the early morning or evening hours. Their diet mostly consists of the following;
- Small fish, such as minnows and sunfish
The crappie will even eat their own young and tend to fee the year round. During the day, crappie tend to be less active while still staying in or near vegetation.
Late spring or early summer is when crappie will start spawning. This is a time when the temperature of the water reaches 65F degrees. The female will lay tens of thousands of eggs, with some producing up to 150,000, in a depression that was created by the male. Such nests are usually in two to five feet of water. Both parents will stay near the nest until the larvae hatch in about a week.
Once they hatch, it is common for the parents to eat some of the hatchlings, but the survivors will grow from two to three inches their first year, and then fully mature the following year. Because mature crappies will consume their own young, there will be times when the crappie population will decline. This is why may biologists actually support unlimited crappie fishing because it allows the younger generation to thrive.