Two of the most popular fish in North America, crappie and walleye can be found in many lakes, ponds, reservoirs, and streams in the US and Canada. The popularity is not only due to being abundant, but also because they are a favorite meal for those who love freshwater fish. Understanding the similarities and differences will help in fishing for either species.
Crappie vs Walleye
A member of the genus Pomoxis, crappie are part of the sunfish family known as Centrarchidae. There are two types, white and black crappie, although the differences between them are rather minor. A North American freshwater fish, crappie are quite popular game fish. They can be found in many lakes, rivers, and reservoirs feeding mostly at dawn and twilight. During the day, crappie tend to be in shallow waters near rock or vegetation.
A typical white crappie lives from two to seven years and may reach up to two pounds, but the record so far is just over five pounds. By adulthood, crappie reach from eight to ten inches in length, have a deep, flattened body, and mouths with many small teeth. Crappie are carnivorous and tend to consume smaller fish and even their own young.
Sometimes called yellow pike, the walleye is a freshwater perciform fish which is closely related to the European zander. The name walleye comes from the setting of the eyes which gaze outward as if looking at the walls. This orientation provides some advantages in the dark for those who fish for walleye as the light reflects better off their eyes. Walleye tend to be olive and gold in their coloring and have many sharp teeth which coincides with their carnivorous feeding habits.
A typical walleye can grow up to 30” in length and weigh around 20 pounds. The record size is 42” in length and 29 pounds. Walleyes may live for decades depending on their environment, but many are caught even before they can grow to full size.
While crappie and walleye are carnivorous and highly popular game fish, the similarities tend to end there. Walleye are considerably heavier and longer than crappie. They also live far longer as well. It is generally easy to tell the differences between the size, coloring, and structure of crappie and walleye, although catching them does fall along similar lines.
The best time to catch either fish is when they feed. But walleye are often caught during the “walleye chop”, which is the afternoon when the wind chops across the water. Crappie feed in dim light, so the best time is either early morning or late evening. Walleye do not eat their young like crappie, but they do feed almost exclusively on smaller fish.
The differences between crappie and walleye are notable. They are also well known for their good taste and are quite popular in terms of fishing. This does highlight another difference between the species as walleye can easily be farmed while crappie are far less suitable for this type of environment.