Black Crappies are members of the sunfish and the black bass family.
The Black Crappie and the white crappie (Pomoxis annularis) can be tough to tell apart as they both have dark olive or black on their backs with silvery sides and have spots on the sides.
Black Crappies inhabit large ponds and shallow areas of lakes, with sandy or muddy bottoms and are usually found in areas of abundant vegetation.
They travel in schools and feed on small fish and aquatic insects.
Best of all, they bite readily and have sweet-tasting filets!
Pomoxis nigromaculatus (Le Sueur) – The scientific name of the Black Crappie is Pomoxis nigromaculatus.
Pomoxis – sharp gill cover; and uigro -maculatus – dark spotted.
It is pale, olive-green in colour, with silvery reflections and, at times, with a bluish cast.
The sides are mottled with pale green and black; the fins are’ large and beautifully mottled.
It is the largest of the panfish and, in the Great Lakes region, sizes of eight or nine inches and an average weight of half a pound are most common.
The length may reach 12 inches and the weight one pound.
The Black Crappie is usually mature in its third year when it is about seven or eight inches in length.
The body is elliptical in shape, somewhat elongated and compressed laterally.
Besides the size and coloring of the crappie, the most prominent feature is the protruding mouth.
This protrusion is accentuated by the dented-in shape of the crappie’s head just above the eye.
This is a reliable identification feature.
Black Crappie Distribution:
The Black Crappie ranges from Minnesota and Lake of the Woods to southern Ontario and Lake Champlain, southward in the Gulf drainage to Texas and Florida, and north on the Atlantic slope to North Carolina.
Southern Manitoba appears to be the northern limit of its range; in Ontario, it is found in Lake of the Woods District, Lake
St. Clair, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the Rideau drainage systems.
It is abundant in the latter system.
A fish of so wide a range has many local names. We hear it called calico bass, speckled bass, strawberry bass and black crappie. The last common name is the authoritative one.
Black Crappie Habitat:
The preferred habitat is clear, weedy lakes and large streams.
It is a fish of quiet waters.
The Black Crappie is gregarious, moving in large and active schools.
The males excavate shallow depressions for nests among or near some vegetation, in water five to six feet deep.
Eddy and Surber48 reported that females, half a pound in weight, average from 20,000 to 60,000 eggs.
Spawning takes place in May and June, the incubation of the eggs extending over five to ten days.
The males guard the eggs and fry.
Like other members of the family, the Black Crappie is carnivorous, feeding chiefly on small fishes, crustaceans and insects.
It feeds in the early morning, evening and at night.
It is one of the few members of the family that continues to feed during the winter and that does not go into semi-hibernation.
The crappie embodies the qualities that endear it to beginners and experts alike; it takes all kinds of bait in all kinds of weather at all times of the day.
However, it bites best in early spring, in June and in late fall.
When fishing in open water or through the ice, small minnows are the most effective bait.
Crappie fishing is greatly enjoyed by those who fish with a light ily-rod.
In its natural range, it ranks high as a sport and food fish, and enormous numbers are taken by anglers.
It is the largest and finest of the panfish and its flesh is very palatable.
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