Pomoxis nigromaculatus (Le Sueur) THE
scientific name of the black crappie is Pomoxis nigromaculatus.
Pomoxis - sharp gill cover; and uigro -maculatus - dark spotted. It
is pale, olive-green in colour, with silvery reflections and, at
times, with a bluish cast. The sides are mottled with pale green
and black; the fins are' large and beautifully mottled.
It is the largest of the panfish and, in the
Great Lakes region, sizes of eight or nine inches and an average
weight of half a pound are most common. The length may reach 12
inches and the weight one pound.
The black crappie is usually mature in its
third year when it is about seven or eight inches in length. The
body is elliptical in shape, somewhat elongated and compressed
laterally. Besides the size and coloring of the crappie, the
most prominent feature is the protruding mouth.
This protrusion is accentuated by the
dented-in shape of the crappie’s head just above the eye. This
is a reliable identification feature.
The black crappie ranges from Minnesota and Lake of the
Woods to southern Ontario and Lake Champlain, southward in the
Gulf drainage to Texas and Florida, and north on the Atlantic
slope to North Carolina. Southern Manitoba appears to be the
northern limit of its range; in Ontario, it is found in Lake of
the Woods District, Lake
St. Clair, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the Rideau drainage
systems. It is abundant in the latter system.
A fish of so wide a range has many local
names. We hear it called calico bass, speckled bass, strawberry
bass and black crappie. The last common name is the
The preferred habitat is clear, weedy lakes and large
streams. It is a fish of quiet waters.
The black crappie is gregarious, moving in
large and active schools. The males excavate shallow depressions
for nests among or near some vegetation, in water five to six
feet deep. Eddy and Surber48 reported that females, half a pound
in weight, average from 20,000 to 60,000 eggs. Spawning takes
place in May and June, the incubation of the eggs extending over
five to ten days. The males guard the eggs and fry.
Like other members of the family, the black
crappie is carnivorous, feeding chiefly on small fishes,
crustaceans and insects. It feeds in the early morning, evening
and at night. It is one of the few members of the family that
continues to feed during the winter and that does not go into
The crappie embodies the qualities that endear
it to beginners and experts alike; it takes all kinds of bait in
all kinds of weather at all times of the day. However, it bites
best in early spring, in June and in late fall. When fishing in
open water or through the ice, small minnows are the most
Crappie fishing is greatly enjoyed by those
who fish with a light ily-rod.
In its natural range, it ranks high as a sport
and food fish, and enormous numbers are taken by anglers. It is
the largest and finest of the panfish and its flesh is very