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.
But have you ever wondered how to tell the difference between the different species of crappie?
Quiz time: So, is this a white crappie or a black crappie?Keep reading so you can become a “crappie” identifier!
But first, there are actually seven different species of crappie:
Triploid (Magnolia) crappie
Stock hybrid crappie
Natural hybrid crappie
The two types of crappie we will focus on in this article are black crappie and white crappie.
Crappie are considered by many as one of the tastiest fresh water fish. But, how do you tell white crappie from black crappie?
Basic Crappie Info
Before we explore the differences between white and black crappie, let’s take a look at some basic information about crappie.
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. Crappie are also even a favorite of those who ice fish.
Although crappies can be found in smaller schools by anglers, they are typically known to move in large schools.
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 (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:
Black crappie have a distinguishing darker pattern than white crappie.
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.
Black crappies typically weigh ¼ lb to about ½ lb but they are also known to reach up to 4 lbs.
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.
Black crappies can be found in lakes, water reservoirs, and large rivers. They prefer low-velocity areas as well as sandy bottoms with clean water with abundant cover.
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.
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.
Black crappie mature at an age of two to four years, but the typical life span lasts about seven years.
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.
Below are some white crappie specs that might interest you:
White crappie have a lighter color than the black crappie.
White Crappie Size
Mature white crappies typically measure in length from 9 to 15 inches.
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.
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.
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.
White crappie can live for up to nine years.
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.
Now that we’ve covered some basics about both black and white crappie, let’s look at some ways that they differ.
One way you can tell the difference between white and black crappie: White crappie have 5-6 spines on the dorsal fin, whereas black crappie have 7-8.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Crappie themselves are predators, but they are also preyed upon. This picture shows a black crappie with what was probably an attempt by a blue heron or eagle to snatch it out of the water.
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.
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.
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!
It’s hard to beat the feeling (and the smiles that follow) when you put a hook N1. After all, who doesn’t love catching fish? But, when it comes to fish anatomy, they are as equally fascinating as they are to catch.
There are thousands of fish species all over the world. Fish are cold-blooded animals, which means that in most cases, their body temperature can change to mirror the temperature of the water they live in.
A Fish’s anatomy can be divided into external and internal. Let’s start by examining the external anatomy of a fish.
External Fish Anatomy
The external anatomy of a fish includes the fins, scales, gills, eyes, nares, mouth, lateral lines and vents. Let’s take a look at each.
The fins of a fish are appendages used to move, steer, stop or position. The fins also give the fish balance in the water.
The fins could be single fins (such as the anal fin, the back or dorsal fin, and the caudal or tail fin) or paired fins (they include pelvic or hip fins and pectoral or chest fins) along the centerline of the fish.
Certain fish, such as the catfish, have an adipose fin which is behind the dorsal fin. The purpose of the anal fin and dorsal fin is to help the fish conveniently roll over to their sides.
The caudal fin, on the other hand, allows for propulsion as the fish moves forward. Lastly, the paired fins allow the fish to steer, stop, and hover around.
A lot of freshwater fish have spines that support their fins. These rigid spines can be very sharp, thus playing a defensive role in protecting the fish from danger. The catfish, for example, has sharp fins in the dorsal and pectoral area and anglers should be aware and careful when handling these fish.
In some species, the number of spines in the dorsal fin actually helps differentiate between two species, as is the case with white crappie and black crappie.
Dorsal fins and caudal fins, on the other hand, have rays which are frequently branched and are less rigid.
Most bony fish have scales that are either cycloid or ctenoid, except for a few such as the catfish, which doesn’t have a scale, or the gar which possesses ganoid scales.
Cycloid scales have edges which are smooth and rounded while ctenoid scales have edges which are jagged.
To prevent infection, most of the fish have a mucus layer which covers the body. It is important that anglers who intend to return a fish to the water, be very careful with the way they handle the fish, so they don’t mistakenly rub off this mucus layer from the fish. Wetting your hands before handling the fish can help reduce the likelihood of damage to the mucous layer.
The nares are a pair of nostrils which the fish uses to detect odors in the water. These nares are very sensitive. Fish like catfish and eels have a sense of smell that is well developed.
Fish that live in water that is dark or murky, tend to rely on smell more heavily than fish in clearer aquatic habitat.
Fish can also use their sense of smell to detect chemicals in the water, which may indicate predators or even help a fish to locate a mate.
Fish use their nares (or nostrils) to sense odors from predators and prey alike.
The shape of a fish’s mouth can dictate the kind of food the fish eats. For example a fish with a larger mouth will tend to have larger prey.
Fish have a good sense of taste, and in some cases, they can taste their prey even before they swallow it. Some fish are omnivores, like many freshwater fish in Florida. Other fish are mainly piscivorous, which means they feed mainly on other fish.
There are also some fish, such as grass carp, that are herbivores, eating plant life. Depending on the species of fish, some may have teeth while others don’t.
Some fish, such as the gar or chain pickerel, have canine-shaped teeth. Others, however, like the catfish have cardiform teeth, which feel like a rough area in the mouth.
Some have vomerine teeth, which are like tiny patches of teeth in the roof of the fish’s mouth. Others, such as the grass carp have pharyngeal teeth which are located in the throat.
The anatomy of a fish’s mouth can affect what type of hook to tie in fishing for particular species of fish.
In most fishes, the vent is in front of the anal fin. The vents are external openings which open to the reproductive and digestive tracts of the fish. During spawning, the vent serves as an outlet for eggs and sperm.
The vent is also the site where waste is excreted from the body of the fish.
Internal Fish Anatomy
Internal fish anatomy consists of the brain, spine, spinal cord, swim bladder, kidney, stomach and intestines, vent, liver, heart, gonads/eggs, muscles and pyloric caeca. Let’s take a look at each below.
The spine serves as the primary structural framework of the fish. The fish anatomy as a whole is built upon the spine. The spine also connects to the tail of the fish at the rear and the skull of the fish at the front. Numerous hollow vertebra helps to house and protect the spine of the fish.
The fish skeleton is the framework for the entire fish.
The spinal cord of the fish is connected to the brain of the fish as well as to the rest of the fish’s body. It carries sensory information from the body to the brain and also relays instructions from the brain to the rest of the body.
It is in the brain that sensory information is processed. This is the center of control in a fish. In the brain, automatic functions such as respiration as well as other behaviors are controlled.
The swim bladder is a hollow organ which the fish uses to conserve energy. The swim bladder functions much like a human lung. The fish draws oxygen into the bladder that has been drawn from the water by way of the fish’s gills. The more oxygen the sac holds, the more buoyant the fish becomes.
Conversely, when the bladder releases oxygen, the fish becomes less buoyant, which allows it to sink to deeper water.
The fish can use the swim bladder to to suspend itself in the water, thus saving energy.
Because of atmospheric pressure difference between the water surface and deep water, fish which were caught from deep waters will need to have some air released from their body before they can return to the deep water.
Some species of fishes, however, do not have swim bladders and because of this, they can sink if they stop swimming.
The kidney is a part of the fish anatomy that aids a fish in discharging waste from the body. Waste materials in the blood are filtered by the kidney and then removed from the body. The kidneys also help to regulate the concentration of water and salt in the body of the fish.
Stomach And Intestines
The stomach and intestines of a fish play an important part in the fish’s survival. They help to break down ingested food and to absorb the nutrients. Some fish have short intestines because the food they take is easy to digest. Other fish, such as the herbivores, have longer intestines that help them break down the food they eat.
The pylori caecum is situated at the junction of the intestine and stomach. It has finger-like projections. Although the function of this organ is not completely understood, the organ has been known to secrete enzymes that help in digestion.
The muscles of the fish help the fish to move in the water. The fillet of the fish, which is generally the part of the fish that is eaten, is comprised primarily of muscle.
Anyone who has ever caught a fish and had it flip out of your hand has experienced how powerful a fish’s muscles can be.
The fish muscles are the powerful force behind a fish’s ability to swim quickly… and also what make them a tasty meal.
The liver is another important organ with various functions. The liver supports digestion by means of secreted enzymes which break down fats. It also helps to store carbohydrates and fats in the body of the fish.
Old blood cells are destroyed by the liver to maintain the blood chemistry of the fish and the liver also helps in the excretion of nitrogen or waste.
Whether you eat the fish you catch or practice catch and release, we hope you have learned a lot from this article about fish anatomy and the various parts of a fish. And, of course, we hope you put a hook N1! You can also view fishing tips videos and read our articles on all types of fishing topics.
The following is how my wife turned her pick-pocket skills into an East Tennessee fly fishing surprise and an N1 Moment for me.
Fly Fishing experience?
I had dabbled in fly fishing while in college, but I hadn’t done it in years and would still be considered very much a rookie fly fisherman.
Then, in 2013, while on a family vacation to Sevierville, Tennessee, my wife surprised me with a guided fly fishing trip. She had arranged for me to go on an all-day, smallmouth bass fishing float with Frontier Anglers TN.
Smallmouth bass fishing is fun. They are very aggressive fish and are a blast to catch. But, when you put a hook N1 with a fly rod, the experience goes to another level.
Frontier Anglers TN owner, Josh Pfeiffer, was my guide on this extremely hot July day. But, although the weather was sweltering hot, the fishing was hot as well.
It was Father’s Day, 2018. My wife and two daughters gave me a few gifts like they do every year. The last gift was an envelope. I opened it up, and inside was a gift certificate for… you guessed it, a fly fishing trip with Josh Pfeiffer. And while I was certainly excited about getting to go fly fishing again with Josh, there was more to the story…
About a month prior to receiving this gift, I thought it would be great to contact Josh and see if we could set up a time to do a little fly fishing and film some instructional fishing videos.
Even after 5 years, I still had his business card in my wallet. So, I emailed him to see what he thought of my idea. He emailed me back and said he might be interested in working something out. But, I got sidetracked and never closed the deal.
My wife, who had no idea I had been communicating with Josh, thought that sending me fishing for the weekend would be a great Father’s Day idea. But, she couldn’t remember anything about who had taken me five years earlier. So what did she do? She went through my wallet, of course!
She found Josh’s business card and called him to book the trip. I later asked Josh if he thought it was strange that both my wife and myself were separately contacting him. He said he wasn’t really sure what to think, so he didn’t say anything to my wife. Smart man.
So, a few weeks later, I was back on the water with Josh, five years removed from my last fly fishing trip with him. On this second trip, we fished for trout. And just like the previous trip, Josh’s knowledge of East Tennessee fly fishing didn’t disappoint. Over a two day span, I caught close to 30 rainbow trout. And while I love to put a hook N1, that was only part of what made the trip so special.
I wanted to go fly fishing again with Josh. My wife wanted me to go fly fishing with Josh. But, neither of us knew what the other was thinking. What resulted was a great surprise, a few laughs, and some great fishing.
I thought to myself, you know, this is what we always say at N1 Outdoors. It’s not the size of the fish or the wild game. It’s the unforgettable moments and memories that are made outdoors with friends and family. That’s what we love to celebrate. This trip was no different.
I’ll do some East Tennessee fly fishing again… and this time it will be a lot sooner than five years! Can’t wait to get that trout fishing line back in that Tennessee water!