white crappie (pomoxis annularis)
black crappie (pomoxis nigromaculatus)Also Known As:
- strawberry bass
- speckled bass or specks
- speckled perch
- white perch
- crappie bass
- calico bass
- oswego bass
Crappie is arguably Canada's best tasting pan fish (a fish that's roughly the shape and size of a frying pan) and tremendously popular amongst anglers across North America.
There are 2 types of crappie: Black & White
The only difference is speckled colouration on the black crappie vs. stripes on the white, and the number of dorsal fin spines - 5 or 6 on the white crappie, 7 or 8 on the black.
Aside from that, they're pretty much the same size, shape, and structure.
Mature crappie spend their days in schools, hanging out in the brush, rocks, and weeds until it's time to feed - usually at dusk or dawn.
They tend to prefer deeper water, but you'll find them closer to the shore as the weather cools. They're active all year which is great for ice anglers, and typically spawn between May and June.
Adults have an average size 6-12 inches and 0.5 - 1 lbs. Of course, they can get much bigger than that.
Canadian Crappie Records
Angler: Charles Cherill
Length: 17 inches
Weight: 3.78 lbs
Girth: 16.5 inches
Waterbody: Lake Erie
Nearest Town: Hillman Marsh
Date: May 10, 1986
Bait or Lure: Minnow
Angler: Alan Dean
Length: 17 inches
Weight: 2.72 lbs
Girth: 13 inches
Waterbody: Lake St. Clair
Nearest town: Lakeshore @ Belle River
Date: April 18, 2009
Bait: 1.5" black tube jig
Where and How To Catch Crappie
White and black Crappie are virtually identical in shape, size, and behaviour. Both adults predominantly feed on smaller fish including the young of their predators. This includes;
- Young Northern Pike
- Young Muskie
- Young Walleye
The most common crappie food are minnows. Minnows tend to spend their time avoiding predators in the brush, weeds, and other aquatic cover. This is where you'll find crappie during feeding hours at dusk and dawn.
You can also catch crappie outside of feeding hours a little further from shore and cover.
During the pre-spawn season, fish waters that are 4° to 12° , and between 25° to 30° in the post-spawning period.
In all cases, a lead-head jig with a soft plastic body (mimicking a minnow) yields the most reliable results. Use this presentation while slowly trolling (or even drifting) with the wind and exploring different depths. Crappie tend to stay away from even the most subtle current. Be mindful of the water to make sure that your bait is visible. Change up colours depending on the clarity.
Again, Crappie are social fish that swim in schools. Once you find one crappie on your fish finder you'll find a bunch. Stay patient and you're sure to reel one in.
In order to cook Crappie, first you have to clean it. Skip to 2:34 on this video and watch how simple and quick it is to produce some clean fillets.
Now that you have Canada's best tasting fillet ready to go, it's time to work some kitchen magic. With crappie, the meat is tasty enough as it is. No need for fancy garnish or elaborate preparations. Keep it simple for best results.
Of course, if you're the type who thoroughly enjoys going that extra mile, more power to you. Here's a recipe that you'll enjoy.
The best part is that it's almost impossible to find a freshwater lake or river in Canada that isn't home to a school of crappie or two. They're abundant and they're delicious, can't get much better than that! Happy angling.
Yours In Boating,