Crappie is crappie, right? But, there are different crappie species. While all of them belong to the Genus Pomoxis and Centrarchidae family, there are distinctions between the seven different crappie species that are recognized officially by the IGFA. Here, we’ll compare black crappie vs white crappie to help you determine the species that you’ve caught.
Aside from their notable differences, we’ll also discuss the traits that make crappie so desirable among anglers.
Black Crappie vs White Crappie
Crappie angling is among the fastest-growing fishing sports and it’s participated by hobbyists and professionals alike.
Black crappie, as its name suggests, has a dark-colored body. But, it actually looks lighter in color in comparison to white crappie, depending on the water condition. The main difference between white and black crappie is actually their pattern instead of the color of their skin.
Black crappie can grow up to 4 inches each year. Rapid growth usually takes place during the first two years and an adult black crappie rarely reaches over 10 inches long.
The species can be found in warm waters across the United States. On the Atlantic coast, they’re in freshwater lakes, river backwaters, and small ponds.
Warm waters that are in the Southern US have black crappie as well. Florida all the way to Texas has large populations of black crappie. They can also be spotted in Illinois, Wisconsin, and certain parts of Michigan.
When comparing black crappie vs white crappie in terms of taste, most claim the latter is more delicious because it has a sweeter taste. The difference in taste can be attributed partly to the difference in the diet of the two species.
To an untrained eye, both black and white crappie species look exactly the same. It can be difficult to distinguish the two from each other if you’re not aware of each of their characteristics.
A female and male white crappie don’t have a huge difference in size. They’re able to reach up to 15 inches long with an average growth rate of up to 4 inches each year.
White crappie distribution in the US is largely in the Atlantic Coast, but they can also be found in states that border Mexico.
Researchers have located white crappie in larger numbers in streams and large rivers in comparison to black crappie that are in the same exact bodies of water. Like black crappie, white crappie are in lakes and freshwater reservoirs in Texas, Alabama, and Florida.
How to Tell Them Apart
We’ll now compare black crappie vs white crappie as telling the difference between the two is not as obvious as you’d think.
Both species of crappie have silvery gray bodies and have dark markings found across their fins and bodies.
The pattern of the markings is what differs between black and white crappie caught with crappie fishing reels.
Adult black crappie have a silvery greenish hue to their bodies with irregular patterns of various black spots.
You’ll find that there’s no regular pattern to the darker body markings of black crappie. There are those that have more spots compared to other black crappies.
The natural markings that are on the bodies of white crappie appear as bars that run down their sides. They’re usually identifiable as they form a pattern rather than the dark spots scattered randomly on black crappie. You may also find white crappie to have a lighter color.
Both female and male white crappie have similar markings on their bodies. There’s no evident distinction in terms of the color of males and females. But, this changes during the spawning season.
The belly of male crappie during spawning turns black while the female retains its natural color. The female’s belly, however, will seem bloated from the eggs.
White crappie tends to be more streamlined and longer compared to the short and rounded black crappie.
White crappie can reach up to 15 inches long as it matures. Black crappie can reach up to 10 inches when mature. The shape of the body of black and white crappie also differs.
White crappie has a football-like shape while black crappie has an oval body. Black crappie also has a flatter, pan-shaped body.
Because the coloring alone isn’t sufficient in distinguishing the two apart, dorsal fin examination will prove to be the most reliable way of identifying the species.
White crappie has six dorsal spines while black crappie has up to eight spines that run along its dorsal fin.
When comparing the dorsal fins of black crappie vs white crappie, you’ll also find the location differs.
Black crappie has a dorsal fin that appears further forward than white crappie’s dorsal fin. Black crappie is smaller overall so this creates an illusion of having a longer and larger fin.
Both species live on freshwater. Black crappie prefers clear waters and it hides in vegetation more compared to white crappie.
White crappie prefers open water. It’s equally at home when it’s in clear or muddy water.
Structure of the Mouth
One subtle difference that you’ll notice between the two species is the shape and size of their mouths.
White crappie has a slightly larger mouth. Its nose is also more pointed compared to that of black crappie.
As far as a crappie angler is concerned, these two species are highly desirable. They’re small fish that can be found across the country, especially in naturally occurring ponds and lakes.
Crappie fishing can be very exciting and crappie can be caught easily.