Considered by many to be one of the best tastings of all freshwater fish, crappie is also some of the most numerous fish found in streams, rivers, and lakes across North America. A panfish that can be found from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico, crappie have enjoyed a strong reputation as being one of the most popular gamefish that can be found.
Adult crappie range in size from six inches to ten inches long and can weigh up to one or two pounds depending on their location. The record for crappie weight is just over five pounds, but that is considered quite rare.
Types of Crappie
There are two basic types, white and black. Both are quite similar with only a few differences between them. Most notably the coloring as white crappie tends to be stripped while black crappie is covered in dark spots. Otherwise, the differences are minor as both types are roughly the same size, shape, and weight. They also have an identical diet and similar habits they engage in on a daily basis.
Crappie is carnivores and will prey on smaller fish, zooplankton, crustaceans, and insects. Crappie has even been known to eat their own young. Crappie tends to hunt during the evening hours when it becomes too dark for their prey to see while they have enough light to find their food source.
During the day, crappie tends to be less active and they hang around shelters in shallow water, such as near rocks, boulders, or weeds for protection. They only come out in the twilight hours to hunt for their food.
Spawning season for crappie starts in the early spring which is also a time when they are quite popular to fish. Because spawning for crappie depends on the water temperature, it usually begins in March in the deep south and takes until May once you reach the northern states and Canada. It is possible for those who travel to catch quite a few crappies in different freshwater lakes, streams, and rivers for up to four months out of the year.
Why Crappie are Popular Freshwater Fish
There are several reasons, but arguably it is their good taste that makes them a popular freshwater game fish for many fishermen. Their taste is derived from the diet they enjoy, which means that the diversity of insects, zooplankton, and smaller fish contributes to the tenderness of the muscle.
It also takes some skill to land crappie which is not quite like much other freshwater fish. Depending on the location, time of day, and the calendar, catching crappie can be challenging for those who are not familiar with the right techniques. However, for those who can time their fishing adventure to when the crappie feed, it can be quite productive.
Because of their feeding nature, crappie is usually not raised in farms or small ponds because they quickly eat up all the potential food. And because they are not for sale in most stores that offer fish, you have to catch them if you want to eat them at least for the most part. This actually has increased its popularity over the years.