White Crappie vs. Black Crappie – The Difference Simplified

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Well you can’t determine the difference on color, or at least not color alone. We’ll try to make this black and white with no “gray area”.

Populations of Crappie exist in all of the 48 contiguous US States. They are one of the most fun fish to catch, especially on light tackle and light line and in my humble opinion, are one of the best, if not the best tasting freshwater fish there are.

White Crappie are very similar to Black Crappie and sometimes have anglers calling one the other and the other the other or the other the one that should be the other. Confused? Let’s try to break it down simply, and don’t get me wrong, I’ve never called a Crappie a Redear Sunfish, but the distinction between black and white crappie sometimes does take a closer look before just saying “caught some nice black crappie today”. When white crappie spawn, they darken a ton in color and that is when most anglers make the mistake of identification.

White and black crappie also school together, spawn together, and grab a drink at the local dive together. Thus we have hybrid crappie swimming around too!

Rule #1: “Black crappie are not the males and white crappie are not the females.” There are both male and female black crappie and both male and female white crappie.

Rule #2: White crappie have 5-10 vertical bars along their body and black crappie have scattered, random spots.

Rule #3: Dorsal fins. Spines. The most easy and accurate way of identifying Crappie:

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Crappie are definitely fun to catch and definitely great to eat. We stress practicing catch and release as with any gamefish.

Most people think of crappie as small, tiny, easy to catch fish, but on the contrary ask any serious crappie angler and he’ll have a tackle box or three that proves otherwise.

Crappie in the right habitat can grow to a size that’ll have 6lb test line asking for mercy!

Here in South Carolina, the state record is 5.0lb and 5.1lb respectively for White and Black Crappie.

Here’s a nice crappie I caught last year.

Can you guess if it is a black or white crappie?

p.s. calling any sunfish you catch a “bream” is erroneous. To be continued…

-Justin

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