Understanding The Differences Between White Crappie and Black Crappie

Fishing for crappies is fun and exciting and one of the most commonly sought-after species among anglers in the United States, given that these fish live pretty much everywhere across the country.

Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran in crappie fishing, chances are you’ve noticed that not all the crappies you catch look the same. There are several types of crappies out there, two of the most widespread being white crappie and black crappie.

When fishing for white crappie and black crappie, the main differences lie in their habitat, distribution throughout the states, and the recommended bait used. Additionally, they vary in appearance, body size, body shape, and behavioral aspects.

In today’s guide, we’re sharing information on how to tell both crappie species apart, where to find them, and the best approach to catch them.

Fishing for White Crappie

Also known as silver perch, white perch, and sac-a-lait, white crappie are a great sport fish to target. Besides learning how it looks in comparison to black crappie, you should also know the spots to find it and how to go about catching it.

What do White Crappie look like?

Starting with color, white crappies generally have a lighter shade covering their bodies. The “white” in the name refers more particularly to the color of the patterns on the fish rather than its overall look.

White crappie will show off marks in the form of stripes starting at the upper end of the body and uniformly reaching the lower back. These lines are brighter/lighter in color, and they are more distinguished as bands.

On their dorsal fin, white crappie possesses 5 to 6 spines. Also, note that the dorsal fin is a bit farther from the head of this crappie species.

The mouth of the white crappie is bigger than its black counterpart, whereas its body takes a slimmer and more elongated shape.

On average, white crappie measures around 10 to 15 inches long and weighs between 0.25 and 0.5 pounds. In 1957, Fred Bright achieved the world record white crappie catch with a 21-inch fish that weighed 5 pounds 3 ounces.

Where do they live?

The eastern and central areas of the country are where you’re most likely to find white crappie. Missouri, Louisiana, and Illinois are among the states with a significant presence of this fish.

As for their preferred water type, white crappies don’t necessarily have one. They don’t mind living in muddy, turbid waters or calm, clear waters.

They tend to stay in warmer waters in lakes and big ponds. They also like to stay in rocky spots, areas with vegetation, under logs and trees, as well as open water.

What are the best ways to catch White Crappie?

As far as the fishing equipment needed for white crappie fishing, we recommend a line test between 2 to 8 pounds with a hook size ranging from 4 to 8.

A grub or minnow bait should do the trick but don’t forget to fish it below a bobber or close to the bottom.

Fishing for Black Crappie

Also called calico bass, speckled bass, grass bass, and strawberry bass, black crappie fishing is similar to white crappie fishing with a few key differences.

Yes, you should know its appearance, but you should also have an idea of the type of habitat it prefers and the bait/technique that’s most likely to work.

What do Black Crappie look like?

Color-wise, black crappies are true to their name, with a generally dark shade covering their bodies. Like white crappie, the “black” is more related to the fishes’ patterns.

The marks on the black crappie demonstrate in the form of dark spots scattered all over its body. Compared to the stripes on white crappie, these marks are irregular and random.

You’ll find that the dorsal fin is a bit closer to the head in black crappies. You can count 7 or 8 spines there.

The mouth of the black crappie is angled up, whereas its body is flatter and shorter with a rounder profile.

On average, black crappie measures about 7 to 13 inches long, although the longest black crappie reported has a whopping length of 19.3 inches.

Black crappie typically weighs around 2 pounds (no more than 6 pounds), but in 2018, Lionel Ferguson achieved the world record black crappie catch with a fish that weighed 5 pounds 7 ounces.

Where do they live?

The eastern and central regions of the country are where you’re most likely to find black crappie. Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida are among the states with a significant presence of this fish.

Black crappies are typically drawn to calmer and clearer waters. They tend to avoid turbidity and prefer spots with plenty of vegetation where they can stay out of sight.

Lakes, ponds, broad streams, and rivers are among the places where you can usually find black crappies. They also like hiding under submerged stumps and logs.

What are the best ways to catch Black Crappie?

For black crappie fishing, you’ll want a light or ultralight rod and matching reel, paired with 4 to 8 pound test.

There are a ton of different ways to catch crappie, but some of the most common are jigging or throwing moving baits like a crankbait. There are also some advanced techniques like spider rigging for those who own a boat. You can also fish from the bank to catch crappie.

Wrap Up

We hope this guide helps you understand the critical differences between each species and helps improve your chances of catching each one.

Spring is right around the corner, which means the crappie spawn is on the way! Get out there and catch one! Tight lines. 

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