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White Crappie

Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake's waters are home to white and black crappie, which are a part of the sunfish family. Because they are good to eat, crappie are a favorite fish among anglers.

Common Names:

speckled perch, silver bass, papermouth, crappies


The white crappie has a compressed, deep-silvery body, with shades of green or brown on its back. It has five to 10 dark vertical bars on each side and a whitish belly. It is "hump-backed" with five or six spines in the dorsal fin. The dorsal fin, anal fin and tail contain a combination of dark spots and bands.

Habitats and Habits

White crappie seem to thrive in warmer and more turbid waters than black crappie. They are closely associated with structure, often found near fallen trees, stumps, docks and thick stands of aquatic vegetation.

Small white crappie feed mainly on insects, freshwater shrimp and nymphs, while larger crappie prefer small fish and larger insects. They are especially active at sunrise, sunset and at night during the summer months.

Fishing Techniques

White crappie bite best on live minnows, small jigs and spinners. The best time to fish for white crappie is during the spring spawning season when fish move into shallow shoreline areas. Anglers should concentrate on areas with brush, stumps and docks. To concentrate crappie, anglers will often make "crappie attractors" by sinking Christmas trees and other woody debris. During summer and early fall, reservoir crappie move into deeper water along creek channels, roadbeds and submerged points. The fall can be another hot fishing time for crappie as they move inshore again for a short time.

Summer Fishing Tips

Location: Look for crappie to move deeper during the summer. Often, they will be located just above the thermocline (layer which separates water with sufficient oxygen from deeper water with insufficient oxygen). Creek channels, mud flats and standing timber are good bets. Using a depth-finder will help you find schools of crappie in the summer.

Baits/Lures: Jigs tipped with a minnow are the standard lures for crappie, but you can also troll or drift spinners and small swimming baits.

Sporting Qualities

Crappie are excellent game fish and are highly regarded by bait fishermen and artificial-lure anglers alike. They are easily caught during prespawning periods when the fish are congregated in large schools. Trolling with small, live minnows or a spinner-fly combination is very productive. They will also strike subsurface flies, small spinners, jigs, and tiny crankbaits. crappie tend to suspend in midwater, so you may have to experiment to find the right depth.

Eating Quality

Considered to be excellent eating by many anglers. The meat is prepared by rolling in cornmeal or dipping in pancake batter and deep frying, and can also be baked or broiled.

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