• Family: Centrarchidae (Sunfishes)
• Other Names: Spec, paper mouth, strawberry bass
• Ohio Status: Sport fish
• Adult Size: Typically 5-12 inches, can reach 18 inches. Ususally weighs up to about 1 lb but can occasionally exceed 3 lbs.
• Typical Foods: Planktonic crustaceans, aquatic insects, and small fish.
Black crappie closely resemble white crappie, but have deeper bodies. Furthermore, their head, back, and sides are mottled with dusky or black blotches. These blotches do not form vertical bars as on white crappie. The most reliable characteristic, however, is that black crappie have seven or eight dorsal spines compared to the five or six of a white crappie. The dorsal fin is also set further forward on the body of a black crappie than it is on a white crappie.
Habitat and Habits
Black crappie are widely distributed throughout Ohio, but are generally not as wide spread as white crappie. Generally, black crappie prefer clearer water and more aquatic vegetation than white crappie. They are also less tolerant of silt and turbidity (murky water) than are white crappie.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Black crappie spawn during May and June in Ohio. Males construct a nest by fanning out small depressions on the bottom in and around brush, rocks, or vegetation in water between one and five feet deep. Females then lay 5,000 to 30,000 eggs in the nest. After hatching, crappie feed on zooplankton and insect larvae. As they grow, crappie switch primarily to a diet of small fish.