White Crappie fish, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.
Crappie belongs to the sunfish family, they are very sensitive to sunlight. They feed mostly at dawn, dusk and at night all year round, but feed less often when water temps dips below 50°F when their metabolism is slower. They eat small fish, mollusks, insects, minnows and crustaceans, they also feed on gizzard and threadfin shad. Crappie are fish that love structures, so concentrate on cover such as brush piles, stumps, fallen trees, rock piles, humps, or any other submerged cover. Crappie are pretty active all year round, but spring and fall are the hottest times to catch them.
A combination of understanding the fish and the techniques used to catch them will help you to hook more fish to the end of your line. Better knowing and understanding of the fish that you are trying to catch will make you a more successful angler, whether you are fishing for trout on a river or surfing on the beach or trolling on the open water.
The white crappie, Pomoxis annularis Rafinesque, also known as Paper mouth, goggleye, bridge perch and speckled perch, is native throughout the eastern half of Canada and the United States, and has been widely introduced in the west as well. Crappie is actually a member of the sunfish family and can be found in all the continental states. They swim in large schools and are found throughout most of the U.S. and into Canada. Crappies prefer fairly warm water and are normally found in nearly all types of cover.
The dorsal fin has 6 spines. The White Crappie is paler in color, with dark spots on the silver sides usually arranged in regular vertical bars. The white crappie tends to be lighter in color and often has distinct vertical bars of gray extending down its sides. It has 5-6 dorsal spines. They average 6 - 11 inches (15 - 27 cm) fully grown, however with enough food and cover they can reach lengths up to 17 in (42cm). In most waters, crappie with a weight from 1/2 to 2 pounds is considered good fish. They can reach weights of up to 6 pounds, and can live up to 10 years.
These species prefers slower-moving water, often turbid, whether a backwater of a small creek or a large
lake. White crappies can flourish in warmer, waters that have more silt than
Black Crappies would like. They prefer areas with clear to turbid water and heavy structure. When living in river they prefer areas with slow or no current such as sloughs, backwaters, and oxbows. When spawning, the white crappie deposits its eggs on plant surfaces or in poorly-defined nests in shallow water. This very prolific fish may overpopulate small bodies of water less than 100 acres in area. Crappies are versatile feeders, eating most types of insects, worms, and small crayfish and minnows.
Crappie spawns when the water temperature reaches about 52-60°F (11-16°C). Just before spawning (when the water hits about 48-51°F), they move into shallower water and feed aggressively. This is known as the pre-spawn period. Most crappie move into shoreline cover such as fallen trees and shallow coves during this time. The females will then lay their eggs and move to slightly deeper water while the males stay in the shallows and guard the nest. If you catch several smaller fish in shallow water, try moving to the nearest drop-off and you may find the larger females feeding. These pre-spawn and spawn periods of spring often offer the best fishing of the year. The cooling water of the fall also offers good crappie fishing. When the warm summer waters begin to cool down, the fish begin feeding aggressively in order to fatten up for the winter.
Fishing method vary, but the most popular is Spider Rigging, a method using many long fishing rods pointing away from the angler at various angles like spiders legs. Using this method you can choose from many different types of bait, to find out one that is preferred for this water. Some of the most popular are live minnows, plastic jigs with lead jig heads or crank-baits. Crappie are also regularly targeted and caught during the spawning period using fly fishing, and can be taken from frozen ponds and lakes in winter by ice fishing method.
Crappie is one of the most fun fish to catch and certainly one of the best tasting fish. They are fairly active year round, but fall and spring offer the hottest fishing. The warming spring water temperature triggers a feed-a-thon amongst fish.
Crappies are school fish and can be caught by still-fishing, casting, trolling or drifting. Spring is the best time to catch crappie as they are involved in their spawning runs. They love cover, so locate brush, stumps or artificial cover at appropriate depths and you are likely to find crappie. At dawn you may find them close to the surface. As the sun hits the water they drop to 5 or 10 feet deep depending on water clarity. As the sun gets higher in the sky they may retreat to deeper water, 25 feet or more. As the sun begins to set they will move back up to the shallows and finish the day at the surface as dusk turns to darkness. Typically they return to deeper water for the night and may occasionally do some feeding during the dark hours. Baits which imitate minnows, insects, worms or small crustaceans will attract crappie. The more aggressive the crappies are, the faster you can move the bait to cover more water.
Crappie are fish that love structure, so key in on areas with prominent cover. Rock piles, shallow coves, stumps, points, fallen trees, and submerged brush are all favorites. Many anglers sink Christmas trees, old bushes, tires, and even wooden palettes to create homes for big fish. Look for locations where you will find lots of cover like overhanging rocks, natural coverlets, sunken logs with crevices and spaces hidden from prying predatory eyes. Vertical jigging is a good method to fish submerged cover. A 1/32 or 1/16 oz. jig dropped into brush and twitched will produce many fish if the conditions are right. Try swimming a small spinner through stump fields or along fallen trees to locate the slabs. When you identify the depth at which most of the fish are holding, try suspending a jig or minnow at that depth under a small bobber. This is an effective way to keep your bait in the desired depth for a much longer period of time.