black crappie flyrod picture

Black Crappie And White Crappie | Know The Difference

Whether you are a master at crappie fishing or just catch the occasional white or black crappie, they are exciting fish to catch as well as to eat.

Basic Crappie Info

Crappie are freshwater fish and are part of the sunfish family. They can be found in various waters in the US and Canada. 

Crappie have a sustainable population due to the equilibrium that exists between their reproduction rate and the rate at which they are harvested each year.

Crappies love to eat smaller fish that exist in their habitat. When fishing for crappie, you can use a wide variety of baits, including minnows and jigs.

Although crappies can be found in smaller schools by anglers, they are typically known to move in large schools. 

There are seven different species of crappie:

• Triploid (Magnolia) crappie
• Gold crappie
• Stock hybrid crappie
• Natural hybrid crappie
• Black-nosed crappie
• White crappie
• Black crappie

The two types of crappie we will focus on in this article are black crappie and white crappie. Black and white crappie are similar in many ways, but there are some key differences that will help you differentiate between the two species.

Black Crappie

Black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) are found in fresh waters, mostly in North America. They are typically found in bodies of water with very low current, where they hide under timber, thick weeds and other vegetation. When fully grown, it’s not uncommon for black crappie reach weights of two pounds. 

Here are some other interesting black crappies specs:

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Black Crappie Size

Black crappies that are caught will typically measure in length from 4 to 10 inches, but can get much larger. The current record for the longest black crappie is just over 19 inches. an be anywhere from about five inches to over 19 inches. 

Weight

Black crappies typically weigh ¼ lb to about ½ lb but they are also known to reach up to 4 lbs.

Food

Black crappies are known to feed in the early hours of the morning. They also feed during the midnight till about 2 am. They often feed on insects and crustaceans and larger black crappie will feed on other fish such as minnows and shad. 

Reproduction

Black crappies are renowned for their fast reproduction rates. Therefore, after each spawning season, black crappie population increases significantly in lakes and small ponds.

Female black crappie are known to produce at least 11,000 eggs and can produce in excess of 180,000 eggs. As soon is spawning is over, the male black crappies secure the nest for about two to three days until they hatch.

Habitat

Black crappies live in lakes, water reservoirs, and large rivers. They love to reside in low-velocity areas with clean water and love to have an abundant cover like vegetation. They also love sand bottoms which are located in freshwater bodies.

Life Expectancy

Black crappie mature at an age of two to four years, but the typical life span lasts about seven years. 

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White Crappie

Like the black crappie, white crappie (pomoxis annularis) are typically found in various freshwater bodies in North America. White crappie are also similar to the black crappie in terms of weight but tend to be slightly longer than black crappie. White crappie tend to be found in large schools and often hide under rocks or in areas of heavy vegetation. 

White crappies are known to attain maturity within 24 months and some reports reveal that they can survive for about six years on the average.

Here are some white crappie specs that might interest you:

white crappie picture

white crappie

White Crappie Size

Mature white crappies typically measure in length from 9 to 15 inches. 

Weight

White crappies basically weigh ¼ lb to about ½ lb, however, according to the IGFA, the all-tackle world record white crappie is 5 lbs. 3 oz. 

Food

Juvenile white crappie feed on zooplankton and insects, but once they mature, will often feed on smaller fish, such as minnows, as well as crayfish.  

Reproduction

Spawning for white crappies occurs in the months of May and June at a water temperature of 56°F. Female white crappies can produce from around 5,000 eggs to over 90,000. Male crappies keep the nest secure by guarding it. 

Life expectancy

White crappie can live for up to nine years.

Habitat

You will mostly find white crappies in large rivers, water reservoirs, and lakes. White crappies have a very high tolerance for murky waters and can be spotted in areas which have low velocity like pools and also river backwaters. During the morning hours and in the evenings, white crappies are usually located in the open water. However, during the day, white crappies prefer to stay in waters that are quieter, shallower, with surrounding structure.

Black Crappie Vs. White Crappie (The Differences)

Now that we’ve covered some basics about both black and white crappie, let’s look at some ways that they differ.•

Coloration:

Coloration is the most obvious difference between black and white crappie. Black crappie have a darker look while the white crappie appear lighter in color and this is the reason why they have those names. However, while many think that the “white” and “black” refer only to their appearance, it more specifically refers to the markings of each fish. 

Body Markings Of White Crappie And Black Crappie

The body markings on white crappie and black crappie differ. White crappie have vertical “bars” and have brighter stripes running directly from their upper body down to their lower body. However, black crappie have much darker body markings that do not adopt a precise pattern on its sides. The black crappie’s black markings appear to be more random, or speckled.

Length

What seems like a difference in length between black and white crappie is often more about shape. Black crappie typically have a more compact, rounder and flatter body while white crappie are more elongated. 

Dorsal Fins

The dorsal fins are a major determining factor. If you look closely, a white crappie typically have 5-6 spines on their dorsal fin, while a black crappie will have 7-8. 

Fin Position

The position of the dorsal fins from the head of white crappies is somewhat farther away, while in the black crappies, the dorsal fins are positioned nearer to the head of the fish.

Habitat Preferences

Many experienced crappie anglers will say that there is a higher possibility of finding white crappies hidden in bodies of water that contain a large number of rocks or thick vegetation, while black crappies seem to prefer clearer water containing sand beds.

Mouth Structure

White crappie have a larger mouth than black crappie. Another difference in mouth structure is that the mouths of black crappie turn more upward than white crappie.

In Conclusion:

While any kind of crappie is both fun to catch and also delicious, we hope this article has provided you with some helpful information on how to tell the difference between them. Whether your crappie fishing adventures find you chasing white crappie or black crappie, we hope you get to put a hook N1 and have a “crappie” day!

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N1 Outdoors is an outdoors company and outdoor apparel brand providing hunting and fishing tips via our blog and instructional videos. N1 shares bow hunting, fishing and other helpful information for those who hunt and fish and enjoy the outdoors. "Hunting, Fishing, The Outdoors... All N1"

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