What do crappie eat and do crappie eat crawfish? Ask these questions to any panfish angler and you’ll get the same exact answer every single time: just about anything!
So, what do crappie like to eat? Anything that you throw into the water. This is absolutely true as crappie are known for being some of the species that aren’t picky on their food. But, it’s still best to use the best live bait and glow-in-the-dark lures when targeting crappie with crappie reels.
We’ve already given you a condensed answer to the question. But, there’s still more to know about this interesting species apart from what they eat, including their life cycle, and feeding habits. Read on to know more about the species!
What Do Crappie Like to Eat?
You may also be wondering, what do black crappie eat? Although crappie, as a species, aren’t picky eaters, they still have a preference and they are as follows:
- Tiny insects e.g. water boatmen
- Ghost or grass shrimp
- Young walleye, pike, bluegill, and other species
- Minnows, in particular, flatheads and threadfin shads
- Crayfish, frogs, and other small amphibians
Interesting Facts About Crappie as a Species
Crappie are deep-bodied freshwater species, popular among fishermen and households as food. But, they are also prized fish for sport fishing.
Crappie are native to the eastern US, but they have been introduced to waters across the globe. They can attain a length of 12 inches or 30 cm but rarely more. They weigh an average of 4 lbs. or 2 kg.
White crappie or P. annularis, in general, inhabit warm, silty rivers and lakes. They have silvery scales with irregular black or brown markings on their bodies. They are lighter in color compared to black crappie, which tend to frequent streams and lakes with clear waters,
You already know the answer to ‘what do crappie eat?’ They eat whatever is presented to them as they don’t like roaming in search of their food.
Instead, they wait and strike quickly. Crappie are ambush predators so they hunt in a way that they conserve energy. They’re most active from dusk to dawn.
Take note: crappie aren’t daytime feeders. If you will be targeting crappie for the first time, it’s best to take advantage of the fact that crappie are active at night.
Although it varies among different crappie species, the fish reproduce at an alarming rate. They cause issues in small ponds from overpopulating them in just a short amount of time. The magnolia hybrid, one of the many crappie species, is sterile. It’s often used in addressing the issue of overpopulation.
The eggs, as soon as they hatch, feed instantly. The fry will need small meals and nutrients, which they often get from microscopic animals, including zooplankton, water boatmen, grass shrimp, and other invertebrates.
Although the diet will seem to be insufficient at first, it will be enough in driving tremendous growth. Crappie fry will grow up to 4 inches in just a year with this diet according to the Wildlife Resources Commission of North Carolina.
When crappie grow twice as big up to the size of your hands, they’ll move on to bigger prey, feeding on insects of any kind and other species of fish, such as crappie, bluegill, and pike. Yes, they’re cannibalistic!
Impact of Crappie’s Diet on the Ecosystem
- As mentioned earlier, among the many animals that crappie feed on are small frogs. There are small frogs that secrete poisonous liquid when they’re digested, making them harmful to humans and pets. By helping reduce their population, crappie minimize the risk of poisonous frogs causing harm to us and our pets.
- Do crappie eat crawfish? Yes, when food sources are low. This is a good thing as crawfish often prey on fish eggs and small fry. This has a negative impact on the population of fish. Crawfish also aggressively harvest underwater plant beds, causing the spread of some unwanted marine plants.
More Facts About Crappie
A lot of anglers are fascinated by crappie as a species. Here are more interesting facts about them:
The Ability of Crappie to See Decreases When They Grow
Crappie are saltatory hunters. They’ll inspect the area that they’re in for a meal. When there’s no source of food for the fish, they’ll move onto a different area.
Their hunts are successful when prey is located at the left or right side of their head. When crappie are smaller, they’ll locate and strike their prey easily. However, this ability decreases when the fish grows.
There are animal experts that have studied crappie and they say the angles of the eye cones of crappie get smaller, which affects their eyesight and ability to feed.
The change can make it incredibly difficult for mature, large-size crappie to target smaller prey. This is primarily why most crappie eat larger prey-like fish.
Crappie’s Life Can Reach a Decade
While crappie’s average lifespan is 4 years, there are those that have been recorded to live up to an entire decade. This is a great feat for the species as other fish of the same exact size as crappie only live up to 6 or 7 years.
But, just like other species of fish, the duration or life span of crappie will greatly depend on their diet and habitat. Crappie tend to live a lot longer in waters with abundant sources of food.
If they are in protected waters, they also last longer. But, in unprotected waters, they’re usually infected with parasites or overpopulated, leading to them having a shorter lifespan.
Crappie Are Popular for Sport Fishing
Crappie are also caught for sport. A recreational activity like crappie sport fishing doesn’t just bring a community together, it also increases tourism. This, in turn, provides jobs as the sales of fishing equipment increase.
A lot of people set out to catch crappie as they make incredible dishes. They are also very easy to cook.
Understanding the species, their diet, and their feeding habits can help you catch a lot of them the next time you head out on the water.