Black (top) and white crappie
(P. nigromaculatus & P. annularis)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Centrarchidae
Subfamily: Centrarchinae
Genus: Pomoxis
Rafinesque, 1818[1]
Type species
Pomoxis annularis
Rafinesque, 1818[1]

Hyperistius Gill, 1864:

Crappies (/ˈkrɒpi, ˈkræpi/)[3][4] are two species of North American freshwater fish of the genus Pomoxis in the family Centrarchidae (sunfishes). Both species of crappies are popular game fish among recreational anglers.


The genus name Pomoxis literally means "sharp cover", referring to the fish's spiny gill covers (opercular bones).[5] It is composed of the Greek poma (πῶμα, cover) and oxys (ὀξύς, "sharp").[6]

The common name (also spelled croppie[7] or crappé[8]) derives from the Canadian French crapet, which refers to many different fishes of the sunfish family. Other names for crappie are papermouths, strawberry bass, speckled bass or specks (especially in Michigan), speckled perch, white perch,[9] crappie bass, calico bass (throughout the Middle Atlantic states and New England),[10] and Oswego bass.[11]

In Louisiana, it is called sacalait[12] (Cajun French: sac-à-lait, lit.'milk bag'),[13] seemingly an allusion to its milky white flesh or silvery skin.[14][15] The supposed French meaning is, however, folk etymology, because the word is ultimately from Choctaw sakli, meaning "trout".[12]


The currently recognized species in this genus are:[16]

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
P. annularis Rafinesque, 1818 White crappie Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and the Mississippi River basins expanding from New York and southern Ontario westward to South Dakota and southward to Texas.
P. nigromaculatus (Lesueur, 1829) Black crappie eastern United States and Canada


Both species of crappie as adults feed predominantly on smaller fish species, including the young of their own predators (which include the northern pike, muskellunge, and walleye). They have diverse diets, however, including zooplankton, insects, and crustaceans.[17][18] Larval crappies rely on crustacean zooplankton as a food source. The availability of zooplankton can have an effect on larval populations.[19] By day, crappie tend to be less active and concentrate around weed beds or submerged objects, such as logs and boulders. They feed during dawn and dusk, by moving into open water or approaching the shore.[20][21]

Hybrid crappie (Pomoxis annularis × nigromaculatus) have been cultured and occur naturally.[22] The crossing of a black crappie female and white crappie male has better survival and growth rates among offspring than the reciprocal cross does.[22] Hybrid crappie are difficult to distinguish from black crappie by appearance alone. Fingerling yields are variable in culture.[22] The hybrid offspring are fertile, black crappie female and white crappie male crosses more so than the reciprocal.[22]


A black crappie (P. nigromaculatus)

The Pomoxis species are highly regarded panfish and are often considered to be among the best-tasting freshwater food fish. Because of their diverse diets, crappie may be caught in many ways, including casting light jigs, trolling with minnows or soft lures, using small spinnerbaits, or using bobbers with common hookbaits. Crappies are also popular with ice anglers, as they are active in winter.[20][21][23]


Angling for crappie is popular throughout much of North America. Methods vary, but among the most popular is called "spider rigging", a method characterized by a fisherman in a boat with many long fishing rods pointing away from the angler at various angles like spokes from a wheel[24] (spider rigging is not permitted on some waters. In Minnesota, for example, a fisherman may use only one rod during the open water season). Anglers who employ the spider rigging method may choose from among many popular baits, some of the most popular are plastic jigs with lead jigheads, crankbaits or live minnows.[25] Many anglers also chum or dump live groundbait into the water to attract the fish to bite their bait. Crappies are also regularly targeted and caught during the spawning period by fly fishermen, and can be taken from frozen ponds and lakes in winter by ice fishing.[citation needed]


In 2023, apparel company Crappie Forever announced a promotion in which it would award prizes to those catching and releasing tagged crappie in certain Mississippi lakes, in order to further crappie conservation and enthusiasm for tournament fishing.[26]

Commercial fishing

Before state fisheries departments began to implement more restrictive, conservation-minded regulations, a great number of crappies, especially in the Mississippi River states, were harvested commercially in the 19th and early 20th centuries. At one point, the annual crappie catch sold at fish markets in the United States was reported to be about 3 million pounds (1,400 t).[27]

A commercial fishery for crappies existed at Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee until 2003. It was one of the few commercial fisheries for crappies in recent decades.[28][29]

Fishing records

According to the International Game Fish Association, the current all-tackle world records are:[30][31]


  1. ^ a b Eschmeyer, William N.; Fricke, Ron & van der Laan, Richard (eds.). "Pomoxis". Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  2. ^ Eschmeyer, William N.; Fricke, Ron & van der Laan, Richard (eds.). "Genera in the family Centrarchidae". Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Crappie". American Heritage Dictionary (4th ed.). Archived from the original on 26 September 2005. Retrieved 29 June 2006.
  4. ^ "Crappie". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved 29 June 2006.
  5. ^ Ross, Stephen T.; Brenneman, William Max (2001). The Inland Fishes of Mississippi. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 436. ISBN 978-1-57806-246-1. Pomoxis: sharp opercle, in reference to the opercle bone ending in two spines
  6. ^ Wallus, Robert; Simon, Thomas P. (2008). Reproductive Biology and Early Life History of Fishes in the Ohio River Drainage. Vol. 6. CRC. p. 355. ISBN 978-1-4200-0361-1. Pomoxis, Greek: poma, "lid, cover" and oxys, "sharp", alluding to the opercles ending in two flat points instead of an ear flap
  7. ^ "croppie". Dictionary.: "variant of crappie"
  8. ^ Murray, James Augustus Henry; et al. (1893). A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles. Clarendon Press. p. 1141. Crappie. U.S. Also crappé, croppie. A species of sunfish, Pomoxys annularis
  9. ^ "Louisiana Fisheries – Fact Sheets". Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Massachusetts Wildlife" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  11. ^ Schultz, Ken. Ken Schultz's Field Guide to Freshwater Fish. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2010.
  12. ^ a b "sacalait". Dictionary. "Louisiana French sac-à-lait, by folk etymology (influence of French sac bag, French à to, for, and French lait milk) from Choctaw sakli trout "
  13. ^ Smith, Hugh M. (1904). "Common Names of the Basses and Sun-fishes". Report of the Commissioner. Gov't Printing Office: 357. The euphonious French name sac-à-lait (bag of milk), which is heard in the lower Mississippi Valley and now apparently is applied to other centrarchids, as well as to P. annularis, to which it was originally given, has been corrupted to "suckley perch" in Louisiana near New Orleans.
  14. ^ Bulletin. Louisiana Dept. of Conservation. 1917. p. 9. When properly cooked the white, flaky, juicy flesh (sac-à-lait means a "bag of milk" therefore our French-speaking population has most appropriately named this fish) has an exceptionally fine and delicate flavor.
  15. ^ Louisiana Conservation Review. Vol. 9–10. 1940. p. 31. believed to have received its name sac à lait, m., "milk bag" because of the silvery olive appearance of the fish, or because of its extraordinarily white flesh. Read's further investigations, however, revealed that the Choctaw Indian sakli, "trout"
  16. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2013). Species of Pomoxis in FishBase. February 2013 version.
  17. ^ Froese, Rainer; Pauly, Daniel (eds.) (2006). "Pomoxis annularis" in FishBase. March 2006 version.
  18. ^ Froese, Rainer; Pauly, Daniel (eds.) (2006). "Pomoxis nigromaculatus" in FishBase. March 2006 version.
  19. ^ Michaletz, P.H; Obrecht, D.V; Jones, J.R (2012). "Influence of Environmental Variables and Species Interactions on Sport Fish Communities in Small Missouri Impoundments". North American Journal of Fisheries Management. 32 (6): 1146–1159. Bibcode:2012NAJFM..32.1146M. doi:10.1080/02755947.2012.728173.
  20. ^ a b "Comprehensive Report Species – Pomoxis annularis". NatureServe Explorer. Archived from the original on 16 December 2006. Retrieved 29 June 2006.
  21. ^ a b "Comprehensive Report Species – Pomoxis nigromaculatus". NatureServe Explorer. Archived from the original on 14 September 2005. Retrieved 29 June 2006.
  22. ^ a b c d Kelly, Anita M.; Baumhoer, Brandon (June 2014). "Species Profile: Hybrid Crappie" (PDF). Southern Regional Aquaculture Center. SRAC Publication No. 7212. Retrieved 2 September 2023.
  23. ^ "Black Crappie". Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department. Archived from the original on 27 July 2006. Retrieved 29 June 2006.
  24. ^ "Super Crappie Systems". In-Fisherman. Archived from the original on 22 December 2006. Retrieved 23 February 2007.
  25. ^ "Crappie Fishing". Educational Fishing Information for Crappie. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  26. ^ "Fishing: Catch a tagged crappie in Mississippi and it could be worth cash or prizes". Clarion Ledger. 4 June 2023.
  27. ^ "Fisheries." The New International Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1930.
  28. ^ "Commercial Crappie Fishing Stopped". Reelfoot Outdoors. Archived from the original on 28 May 2022.
  29. ^ "Change in Reelfoot crappie population has brought ban on commercial fishing". Kentucky New Era. 23 June 2001. Archived from the original on 28 May 2022.
  30. ^ "Crappie, black". International Game Fish Association. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  31. ^ "Crappie, white". International Game Fish Association. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  32. ^ a b "Looking at the World Record Crappie (White And Black)". Premier Angler. 28 March 2020. Retrieved 28 March 2020.

Further reading