The black crappie is a member of the sunfish family, although it does not play the role typical of the bluegill. The crappie acts more like a predator than prey. It feeds mainly on minnows and other small fish and must be managed accordingly. Crappie often overpopulate in ponds less than 2 acres. However, with the addition of submerged structures and other predators such as large mouth bass, and an annual stocking of minnows in the spring and fall, crappie can be successfully managed in smaller ponds.
There are two species of crappie: black and white. The black crappie can be differentiated from white crappie by the number of stiff spines on the dorsal fin. Black crappie have seven or eight bony spines while white crappie only have five or six. White crappie should not be stocked in small lakes or ponds due to their excessive reproductive rate. Black crappie spawn in early spring in 4 to 8 feet of water. Yearling fish will range in size from 3 to 6 inches, depending on the food supply. Stocking along with large mouth bass often control black crappie populations and help grow trophy bass. Black crappie become sexually mature at 5 to 8 inches.
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