Black Crappie -- Pomoxis nigromaculatus  

History:  Crappie are native to the upper Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes, to Florida and Texas. Both black and white crappie have been largely introduced into Oregon.

Physiology:  Crappie are members of the Centrarchidae Family.   Black crappie can be distinguished from other members of this family because the length of the base of the dorsal fin is equal to or greater than the distance from the origin of the dorsal fin to the eye; dorsal spines usually number VII or VII.  They are dark olive above with pale green or bronze-colored sides.  The entire fish is strongly marked with broken bands of black and gold spots. The life expectancy of black crappie is generally seven years, although some live to ten years.

Crappie dine on small fish, insect larvae, crayfish and worms.  They do not readily accept artificial food.


  Habitat:  Crappie prefer deep, cool, clear waters that are fertile, non-turbid, and fluctuate significantly.  Crappie tend to form loose schools of fish which congregate near brush piles or in sheltered areas in considerable numbers. 

  Reproduction:  Spawning is triggered by water temperatures between 70-80 F. 

  Growth:  Crappie reach lengths of 12" or more (18 maximum).

  Special Considerations:  Within small ponds having uniform water levels all year, crappie tend to become too numerous for the food supply and will quickly reach a size that is too large for bass to eat and too small for fisherman to enjoy.   Because crappie can be so prolific, fluctuating water levels (such as in reservoirs) are thought to be ideal environments for crappie.  Under these situations, lower water level during the summer months restricts reproduction.  Higher water levels during the winter and spring allow for larger food supplies, thus enabling rapid growth of large crappie, suitable for fishing.