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Black Crappie

Pomoxis nigromaculatus

Average length: 8-13 inches

Average weight: 0.25 lbs- 1.25lbs


Black Crappies are a popular sport fish that inhabit clearer cold water lakes with high cover areas and have little to no current. They tend to be schooling fish that prefers cover. Black Crappies can be picky feeders outside their active times, very early mornings and late evenings. Their native range is the east coast west to the Mississippi and south to the gulf coast and north of the Canadian border. Its primary predators are the largemouth bass and the channel catfish. The black crappie feeds primarily on smaller fish, insect larva and crustaceans.


Black Crappies are common in lakes, reservoirs, ponds and pools in rivers. They prefer clear water with little to no current. Black Crappies congregate in areas with muddy and sandy bottoms with high cover like submerged timber (like around a beaver lodge) or dense aquatic vegetation (reeds, or lily pads). Black crappies will school in deep holes away from predators or in heavy cover during the day and will head near shore during feeding times.


There are multiple ways to successfully fish for Black Crappie. These include bobber fishing, jigging, trolling and casting. Each has its own advantages and times they work best. Crappies require fineness and a deft touch as they can be finicky and picky as to what they are interested in. But when you find them when they are active they will be jumping into the boat.

Bobber Fishing

Bobber fishing for crappies works well year round and with live bait can entice even the pickiest fish. When planning on using a bobber and minnow set up, look for schools of fish in deep holes near the structure. Using a light weight long fishing pole with a 6-8 pound test line is ideal. Stock up on crappie minnows as well. If you are fishing closer to the structure be sure to set the depth of the hook to be about 2-4 feet below the bobber, and if you are fishing deeper in the hole set the depth to be about 7-10 feet below the bobber. Hook the minnow so it is able to swim around naturally.


Jigging for crappies is another effective way to bring fish in. When jigging for crappies you want to be a little bit closer to the brush and cover and I find jigging to be most effective during high activity hours, between dusk and dawn. There are two ways to jig for crappies. The first is to cast into the cover and slowly retrieve the jig by keeping it slightly above the brush. I use a smaller jig with a plastic swirly tail, colors that work well are white and bright oranges and yellows. If the cast and retrieve style doesn't trigger any strikes then I will try vertical jigging. Use the same gear you would for bobber fishing, you want a sensitive rod so you are able to feel any hits.


Trolling for crappies works when you are looking for the fish, if night fishing you want to troll in shallower water 6-8 feet deep because that is where the crappies will be feeding. During the day trolling for crappie should be done in around deep holes and near cover. When trolling for crappies you can troll a Lindy Rig with a crappie minnow and a small blade or a small jig that would also be used for jigging, typically a 1/6 ounce jig. A minnow can be added to the jig for extra temptation. Slow trolling works best when trolling for crappies.


The biggest crappie I have ever caught, measuring around 16 inches was caught casting a Hot'n'Tot. Bigger crappies will go after crankbaits, spinner baits in-line spinners and other lures. Use a crank bait that is around 2 inches maximum. Cast into cover or right to the weed line and bring it in over the drop off of into the hole. Casting will also work in open water after finding a school holding in a hole during the day. After finding the school cast across the school and bring in the lure through it. During high activity times try casting a crankbait or spinner bait into the cover to draw out the bigger crappies in the school.

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