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Crappie Fishing


There are two crappie species, white and black, distinguished by six dorsal fin spines for the white and seven or eight for the black. Black crappie are clearwater fish; white crappie tolerate murky waters. Crappies are sunfish, in the same family as bluegills.

Crappie range north into Canada and south to the Gulf. They survive cold and heat and even low oxygen conditions. Crappie move into shallow water from April through June, depending on the part of the country you live in, and when water temperature is 55 to 70 degrees. Find brushy areas, probably in protected coves, with fine gravel or light vegetation on the bottom.

Spawning depth varies with water clarity (less turbidity, deeper spawning). To find the right fishing depth, lower a white lure until it is barely visible. Measure the depth and fish up to twice that depth.

About half a crappie's diet is small fish, so any lure that imitates a small fish is a crappie lure--and the jig imitates not only small fish, but various aquatic insects and crayfish as well.

In summer, crappie hang around bridge pilings, usually 10-15 feet deep.

If you're catching small crappies within a few feet of the surface, trying going deeper, say 10-15 feet, and see if you don't start catching larger fish.

Crappie are attracted to brush and anglers often build brush piles by sinking Christmas trees wired together and anchored with a concrete block. They'll last a long time.

You also can catch crappie through the ice along drop-offs. There are a half-dozen ways to catch crappie; a jillion to locate them. The secret is to find the fish.

The white crappie's Latin name is Pomoxis annularis, and the black crappie is Pomoxis nigromaculatus. But in Illinois, there is only one local name for crappie--"crappie" and it is pronounced "croppie" -- not "crappy". And most of us use a collective singular: "crappie" for one or a bunch, not "crappies".

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