Crappie Fish: Tips, Techniques, and Strategies for Success

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By Vance Bates

Crappies Fish are North American freshwater fish in the sunfish family. There are Some species, black and white crappie, both popular among anglers. They are known for their tasty flesh and are often pursued for sport. Crappies prefer clear water and are commonly found in lakes, ponds, and rivers across the continent.

Scientific Classification

SpeciesPomoxis annularisRafinesque
SynonmysHyperistius Gill


The genus name Pomoxis, meaning “sharp cover” in Greek, refers to the fish’s spiny gill covers. Crappies, comprising black and white species, are popular game fish known for their delicious meat. The common name “crappie” comes from Canadian French carpet, used for various sunfish. Other names for crappies include papermouths, strawberry bass, Oswego bass, speckled bass (particularly in Michigan), speckled perch, white perch, and calico bass (in the Middle Atlantic and New England).

In Louisiana, they’re known as sacalait, from Cajun French sac-à-lait, possibly due to their milky white flesh or silvery skin. However, this is likely a folk etymology, as the term ultimately comes from Choctaw sakli, meaning “trout.” Crappies inhabit lakes, ponds, and rivers across North America, favoring clear waters. They’re prized by anglers for their fighting spirit and are often caught using small jigs or minnows.


ImageScientific NameCommon NameDistribution
Pomoxis nigromaculatusBlack CrappieFound in freshwater habitats across North America, known for distinct dark spots.
Pomoxis annularisWhite CrappieNative to North America, characterized by silver-green body and dark spots.
Pomoxis hybridsHybrid CrappieCrossbreed of black and white crappies, popular for stocking ponds.
Pomoxis buggensisBigeye CrappieNative to the southeastern United States, recognized by large eyes.
Pomoxis hubbsiSilver CrappieNative to the Gulf Coast region, identified by silver coloration.


As adults, both species of crappie Fishing primarily feed on smaller fish species, including the young of their own predators like northern pike, muskellunge, and walleye. They also have diverse diets, including zooplankton, insects, and crustaceans. Larval crappies depend on crustacean zooplankton as a food source, and the availability of zooplankton can significantly impact larval populations.During the day, crappie are less active and often gather around weed beds or submerged objects such as logs and boulders. They are more active during dawn and dusk, moving into open water or approaching the shore to feed.

Hybrid crappie, resulting from a cross between Pomoxis annularis and Pomoxis nigromaculatus, can occur naturally or be cultured. Offspring from a black crappie female and white crappie male cross tend to have better survival and growth rates than the reverse cross. Hybrid crappie closely resemble black crappie and can be challenging to distinguish based on appearance alone. Moreover, fingerling yields from hybrid crappie culture can vary, but the hybrid offspring are generally fertile, particularly when the female is black crappie and the male is white crappie.

Crappie fish bottom feeder

Crappie are not typically considered bottom feeders. They primarily feed on smaller fish, zooplankton, insects, and crustaceans. While they may occasionally forage near the bottom, especially for crustacean zooplankton as larvae, they are more commonly found in open water or near structures like weed beds and submerged objects. Their feeding behavior is more focused on hunting and ambushing prey rather than scavenging the bottom.


Crappie, highly regarded for their taste, are caught using light jigs, minnows, spinnerbaits, or bobbers. They’re popular with ice anglers, remaining active in winter.


Angling for crappie Fishing is popular in North America, with “spider rigging” a common method. This technique involves using multiple long fishing rods pointing away from the angler at different angles. While popular, some waters prohibit spider rigging. Anglers using this method often use plastic jigs, crankbaits, or live minnows as bait. Chumming or dumping live groundbait into the water is also common to attract fish. Fly fishermen target crappies during spawning, and ice fishing in winter is another method to catch them from frozen ponds and lakes.


In 2023, Crappie Forever promoted crappie conservation by awarding prizes for catching and releasing tagged fish in Mississippi lakes.

Commercial fishing

Additionally, before stricter regulations, many crappies, especially in Mississippi River states, were commercially harvested in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The annual catch in the U.S. fish markets reached about 3 million pounds. Commercial fishing for crappies at Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee, continued until 2003.

Fishing records

According to the International Game Fish Association, the current all-tackle world records:

→ The black crappie record is 2.47 kg (5 lb 7 oz), caught by Lionel “Jam” Ferguson in Tennessee, 2018.

→ The white crappie record is 2.35 kg (5 lb 3 oz), caught by Fred Brigh in Mississippi, 1957.


Crappie fishing is a popular pastime in North America, with anglers using various techniques and baits to catch these prized fish. Conservation efforts, such as those by Crappie Forever, aim to preserve crappie populations. Understanding crappie biology and behavior can enhance fishing success.


What’s another name for crappie fish?

Another name for crappie fish is “calico bass.” The scientific name for crappie is Pomoxis.

Is it good to eat crappie?

Yes, crappie are known for their delicious taste and are enjoyed by many people.

Is crappie a type of bass?

No, crappie are not a type of bass; they are a species of sunfish.

What is crappie in English?

Crappie is the English term for the North American freshwater fish species Pomoxis.

What is a crappie fish look like?

Crappie fish have a silvery-greenish body with dark spots and can grow up to about 20 inches long.

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