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I'll Take A Load of Crap(pie) Every Time

Pomoxis was not a Roman general or character in the movie Gladiator, but it is the scientific name for a great fighter- the Crappie. Sometimes, when you are looking for just plain fun, fishing Crappie is just what the doctor ordered. Not only are Crappie a fiesty pursuit, they are also quite tasty. Crappie are native to North America and come in two varieties- White and Black. Biologists believe crappie are native to the Mississippi and Great Lakes watersheds, but not originally in Atlantic Coast watersheds north of the Carolinas.

White Crappie, which commonly reach 15 inches in length, are wide when viewed from the side,

but compressed when observed head-on. They are olive to bright-green on the back, and silvery, with greenish or yellow hints, on the sides. The Black Crappie, which can grow to 16 inches, looks black and white, but closer examination shows its iridescent colors. Viewed from the front, its body is very compressed, narrow from side to side. Viewed from the side, it is deep-bodied, not as long-looking in its proportions as the White Crappie. One way to distinguish the Black Crappie from the white is to count the spines on its dorsal fins. The Black Crappie has seven or eight spines on its dorsal fin. The White Crappie has only five or six dorsal spines. Both crappie have a thin membrane behind the lips that tears easily.

White Crappies prefer, silted, turbid conditions and is not a bottom-dweller. It doesn’t need the cooler, clear waters with hard, clean bottoms that Black Crappies prefer. As they grow, Black Crappie food preferences change to eating other fish, but as adults they also feed on mayflies, midges, dragonflies and other aquatic insects and crustaceans. White Crappies eat crayfish, leeches, crustaceans, insects and, most especially, small fish. Fish are the largest part of its diet.

The White Crappie spawn in late spring and early summer, May to June, when water temperatures are between 60 to a little over 70 degrees. The nests are about a foot in diameter and are located in water deeper than the nests of most other sunfishes, up to eight or 10 feet. Black Crappies also spawn in the spring or early summer, in water 66 to 68 degrees. Males make dish-shaped nests on the bottom, near or among underwater plants in three to six feet of water.

Unlike Bass, Crappie do not semi-hibernate and remain active feeders year-round. This makes them very popular with ice fishermen. Given their dietary preferences, soft plastic imitators and jigs, fished on ultra light rods or ice fishing rods and tip-ups, are popular ways to catch Crappie, and catching Crappie is a great way to #LiveThePassion!

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