The Crappie or Calico Bass Video

by Fly Fisherman

The Crappie or Calico Bass
(Pomoxis sparoides)

ORIGINAL HABITAT AND PRESENT RANGE.—The native habitat of the crappie is from southern Canada through the Great Lakes region and Mississippi Valley to the Gulf states and westward to the Rocky Mountains. However, like almost all other fresh-water fish, it now may be found in every state west of the Rocky Mountains and in all but two of the New England states. The only states not reporting crappie in their waters are Maine and Rhode Island.

FAMILY AND OTHER SPECIES.—The crappie belongs to the sunfish family, and there are two different species. One is the white crappie (Pomoxis annularis), the other the black crappie or calico bass. They are very similar as to color and general markings, etc., and both may be found inhabiting the same waters. Many states have both species in their waters, and some states have but one of the species.

GENERAL LINES, COLOR, Erc.—These two species of fish may be easily distinguished by counting the dorsal spines, the black crappie, or calico bass, usually having seven or eightand the white crappie five or six. The other fins are of the same type as the rock bass although slightly different in shape. The black crappie is much darker in color and inclined to be more spotted than the white crappie which has over-markings more in the form of vertical stripes. The calico bass also has a  deeper body. The general color is a pale olive green with prominent silvery reflections, while the sides are mottled with pale green and black; the fins are large and beautifully mottled. The extreme upper part of the body of the calico bass is very dark colored, with the black overmarkings over a bluish cast. However, this dark color is not so prominent unless the fish is in a shaded or dark area.

WATERS INHABITED.—Either species is well adapted to lakes, ponds, or the more sluggish streams with a gravel or mud bottom, although the black crappie prefers clear-water areas with a gravel bottom while the white crappie will thrive very well in waters which are inclined to be muddy. Cover seems to be one of the least troubles of these fish and they would just as soon be in the open as in hiding.

SIZE.—The black crappie sometimes attains a weight of two pounds while the white crappie reaches three pounds. These sizes are rather unusual, however, as the average size is not over eight inches in length. In the Southern states these
fish arc usually much larger than in the other sections of the nation.

FOOD AND FEEDING HABITS.—It feeds principally on small insect larvae, insects, crustaceans, immature mussels, minnows, and small fish. It feeds in the early morning, in the evening, and at night, taking food from almost any area in the water.

SPAWNING.—It spawns in May and June and the male makes the nest, which is protected until the baby fish are able to take care of themselves. The black crappie makes its nest on the bottom of the lake or stream in shallow water from five to six feet deep and on the gravel among or near some vegetation. The white crappie is not too particular about the location of its spawning bed, and its nest is usually made under a stump or under some submerged brush where the water is from three to six feet deep. The female of either of these species produces from 2,000 to 6,000 eggs which are of the adhesive type and stick to the spawning bed. The incubation period is from seven to ten days.

VALUE TO MAN.—Most fishermen class this scrappy little fish as a game fish on account of its fighting qualities. It is a great favorite with fishermen who enjoy fishing with a light fly rod. It bites equally well for the bait fisherman, and both the adult and young angler have an equal chance to catch these gamy fish.

VALUE To OTHER Fish-I.—The destructive nature of this fish does not make it a very attractive or useful one to be planted with other carnivorous fish. Since it feeds mostly upon living and moving food it can become very destructive when gaining the upper hand in any body of water.

FISHING LURES.—Either species will readily strike a flyand-spinner lure, and the little minnows are also excellent bait. When fishing with the spinners it may be fished by casting or trolling. Both methods may be very effective.

LOCAL NAMES.—Both species have a number of local names and they range from speckled bass, speckled perch, grass bass, shy fish, calico bass to ringed crappie, sec-a-lait, strawberry bass, pale crappie, and dark crappie.

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