Common Family: The Sunfish Family
Common Name: White Crappie
Scientific Name: Pomoxis annularis
White crappie are pan-size fish which are silver and black. They have a large mouth and their spiny-rayed and soft-rayed dorsal fins are connected. White crappie have six dorsal spines. Black crappie have seven or eight dorsal spines. The belly is silvery white. Some of the side scales are darkened to form a series of pale vertical bars.
White crappie are found throughout West Virginia in our larger streams, rivers and reservoirs. They like brushy habitat, including standing timber, fallen trees and brush piles. Crappies begin to congregate near spawning areas in early spring, and spawning begins when water temperatures reach 64 degrees. This is a great time of year to introduce kids to fishing because crappies can be easily caught with hook and line at this time of year.
White crappie are an important recreational ﬁsh and can be managed through recreational ﬁshing regulations, which may include but are not limited to season, bag/creel limits, size limits or water body.
Their diet consists mainly of small fish, insects and crustaceans. Anglers use small minnows and small lures fished in brushy areas. The white crappie is a very popular sportfish in West Virginia and can be found in all U.S. Army Corps Engineers reservoirs, small impoundments and slow-moving sections of rivers and streams. The West Virginia record crappie was 19.75 inches and was 4.05 pounds (Leonard Edgell, 1971). The world record crappie is 5.46 pounds and was caught in Tennessee in 2018. White crappie are thought to be more tolerant than black crappie to turbid water but most occupy the same waters in West Virginia. The common name (also spelled croppie or crappé) comes from the Canadian French crapet, which refers to many different fishes of the sunfish family.
White crappie is one of the prettiest freshwater fish, and anglers have given them many nicknames, including croppie, calico bass, speckled bass, papermouth and speckled bass.
White crappie have six dorsal spines, but black crappie have seven or eight.