Florida Crappie Fish
Perhaps the most well-known Florida fish, the Crappie Fish, is a genus of North American freshwater fish in the sunfish family Centrarchidae. The species within this genus are the white crappie (Poxomis annularis) and black crappie (Poxomis nigromacaulatus), though the local crappie anglers call them speckled perch. Their original habitat was the Eastern US and Canada, but both species have spread throughout the country and abroad.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHITE CRAPPIE AND BLACK CRAPPIE?
There are several notable differences between the two species of fish, but their habitats are one of the key ways to distinguish them when not using visual clues. White crappie thrive in more tepid environments, while black crappie prefer clearer, cooler waters.
CRAPPIE LAKES – FISH HABITAT
These sunfish can adapt to a large range of habitats, one of the most famous being the one that is commonly seen on our group airboat tours and private tours. They are found in anything from shallow farm ponds to deep reservoirs. They are active inhabitants of a wide variety of natural environments including lakes, ponds, river backwaters, and more, all of which are perfect for Florida Crappie fishing. Depending on the time of year, food availability, water clarity, and temperature, crappie fish may be found at depths ranging from one to fifty feet deep. The top Florida crappie lakes include Lake Okeechobee, Lake Talquin, Orange Lake, Lake Monroe, Lake Istokpoga, and Lake Toho. Lake Toho’s full name is Lake Tohopekaliga and it is also well known for its trophy largemouth bass fishing.
IDENTIFYING THE CRAPPIE SPECIES
Both the black and white crappie are very similar in appearance, ranging from dark olive to black on top, with silver sides and black spots and stripes. The black crappie has irregular and scattered spots while the white crappie has seven to nine clearly defined vertical stripes. The largest black and white crappie fish on record weighed in at five pounds and five pounds, three ounces respectively. Their average weight is between one-half and a full pound.
A common misconception about crappie is that they do not bite all year. In fact, they do. If you’re seeking truly excellent crappie fishing year-round, you will need to switch up your tactics, but if you’re doing everything right, they should bite.
Both black and white crappie fish feed primarily on the younger of their own predators such as the northern pike, muskellunge, and walleye. Some of these animals can be seen aboard one of our Everglades tours. Their diverse diets also include zooplankton, insects, crustaceans, and small minnows. They tend to be less active during the day, feeding during dawn and dusk by moving into open water or approaching the shore.
CRAPPIE FISHING TIPS
Your best bet for getting your target crappie to bite is to use the correct bait. The most popular options include jigs in various colors, shapes, and sizes. Jig fishing uses artificial lures that have weighted heads to make the movements look natural. Live bait, Missouri minnows, specifically, hooked through the lips or dorsal fin and allowed to swim naturally, is a very successful method of speckled perch fishing.
Using tactics and fish attractors that are more natural looking and feeling is much more likely to mean a successful crappie fishing trip. Catching crappie isn’t a very active or intense sport, so you shouldn’t use harsh movements to lure them in.
THE BEST LURES FOR CRAPPIE FISHING
When local anglers fish in Florida lakes during daytime conditions (night fishing is its own thing), the consensus is that lime, orange, chartreuse, and just plain green will give you a day of the best crappie fishing. The fish are attracted to the bright colors amidst the submerged vegetation and lily pads. Picking lures that contrast two of these colors and/or matching them with whites and brows will yield good results. All-white, many anglers agree, won’t help you catch crappie much if at all.
- Both species of crappie fish are very popular game fish.
- Other names for the crappie include papermouths, strawberry bass, speckled bass, specks, speckled perch, calico bass, sac-a-lait and Oswego bass.
- Because of their diverse diets, crappie fish can be caught with many types of bait, including light jigs, trolling with minnows, spinnerbaits, and bobbers.
- Crappies are active in the winter, making them a popular ice fishing game (spoiler alert: you can fish in Florida in the winter time without cutting through ice!)
Q: Where is the best place to shop for crappie fishing gear?
A: Since crappie fishing in Florida isn’t limited to one region, there’s no easy answer to this question. Local anglers will likely have the best recommendations.
Q: Is there a difference in bait preference between the white and black crappie?
Q: How can I identify the size and weight of a crappie?
A: The best way to know the weight of your catch is to have a fish scale with you.
Q: Are there any online forums or communities dedicated to crappie fishing?
A: Yes! An internet search should yield up results, and you can even be specific by region!
Q: What’s the difference between a crappie jig and other fishing jigs?
A: Mostly, it has to do with the weight of the head. Another important distinction is the colors involved.