Black Crappie

Black Crappie

World Record: 5lbs
Private Lake, Missouri,
April 21st 2006
Length: 6-14 inches
Found in: Rivers & Streams
Cool Waters 22C


Coloration of black crappie is dark on the top and silver-olive and bronze on the side and belly. They are generally darker than their close relative, the hite crappie. The body is compressed and deep-bodied, with heavy, irregular spotting over the head, body, and fins. Black crappie have seven or eight spines on the dorsal fin, which is large and equal in size with the anal fin. They have large, dark eyes and wide mouths that resemble those of largemouth bass. The black crappie’s mouth, however, is paper thin and not as large relative to the body.


Black crappie can adapt to shallow, vegetated farm ponds to deep, sprawling reservoirs with little or no natural cover. They thrive in virtually any  environment, including natural lakes, reservoirs, sloughs, ponds and backwater areas of large rivers, seemingly any body of fresh water with adequate forage and an absence of current. They prefer sandy or muddy bottoms, and may occupy depths of 1 to 50 feet, depending on time of year, water clarity and temperature, and available food. Black crappie are structure and cover-oriented fish. Many of which lack vegetation, flooded timber provides their preferred cover, while drop-offs and creek channels are readily used.


The main component of their diet is small minnows, shad and small sunfish. They will also eat plankton, insects, insect larvae, and worms, especially in ponds and sloughs where large baitfish populations are uncommon. They also eat the fry of other fishes. Black crappie have large appetites and may feed at any time of day or night. They are primarily ambush feeders, often lurking in cover and picking off minnows as they swim by. Yet they will often school in large groups to follow baitfish, especially during summer and winter, although their preferred prey usually inhabit the same areas as black crappie.