Native to the Atlantic slope from Virginia to Florida, the Gulf slope west to Texas and the Mississippi River Basin. Introduced to Arizona in 1905. Head and back heavily and irregularly spotted with black blotches on a silver-olive background; tail, dorsal and anal fins are spotted. Seven or eight spines on dorsal fin. Body is compressed or flat. Length: 6 to 18 inches. Weight: 3 oz. to over 4 pounds. Can live up to 15 years but rarely live more than 6 or 7 years
Location and Habitat
Black crappie are far more abundant than white crappie and are found in most of Arizona's major warm water reservoirs. Black crappie (and white crappie) are attracted to submerged brush and trees and generally travel in schools.
Spawning is often in open water, typically over mud, sand or gravel bottoms. Prefer sites near vertical cover such as trees or rocks. Males guard the nest and young after the eggs hatch. Generally mature in second or third year of life. Live up to 7 years.
Insect and plankton eaters until they reach six or seven inches switching to a fish diet. In Arizona, threadfin shad are their main diet.
Very aggressive and fun to catch. Often found in schools. They bite most readily in the spring during the pre-spawn and spawning periods. They also tend to feed at night more than the other centrarchids. Effective bait and lures are minnows, small jigs (curly tail, tubes or marabou), silver spoons, spinners and flies fished along shorelines around submerged brush and trees and rock reefs. Delicate bones around the mouth make it vital to use a net or extreme care in landing these fish, sometimes called “papermouth.”
The meat is white, fine textured and considered excellent eating. Many consider crappie to be one of the finest tasting freshwater fish available.