Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) and White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis)

A medium-sized pan-shaped fish with large fins and black speckles on a white/silver background.
Black Crappie

(c) MN DNR, C. Iverson

Fish of the Mississippi River


Crappie are often found hunting minnows near submerged stumps, fallen trees, and rock piles. It also eats insects, crustaceans, and zooplankton. Crappie swim in large schools and are most active at dawn and dusk.

White and black crappies tend to prefer different habitat. White crappie tolerate turbid waters better than Black crappie and are more abundant in waters that have lots of silt. Black crappie are common in the backwater sloughs of the upper Mississippi River.

People rank high on the list of crappie predators. Anglers aggressively pursue it, especially in the winter when other fish are less active. It has sweet, white meat and is popular table fare.

Fascinating Facts

  • Crappie are known in Louisiana as sac-a-lait, French for “sack of milk.”
  • Crappie are also called “papermouths,” due to their delicate mouth tissue.


Key ID Features: Crappies are a round flat fish with a large anal fin nearly the same size and shape as the dorsal fin. Both white and black crappies have a silvery green back and silvery sides. The black crappie densely speckled with black spots. The white crappie’s black spots run in dark vertical bars. Both species average 6-12 inches in length and can weigh up to one pound.
Present in Park: Common.
Habitat: Streams, small to midsized lakes, and backwaters of the Mississippi River.
MN Status: Sport fish

For Further Reading

  • Bosanko Dave. 2007. Fish of Minnesota. Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications, Inc.
  • Dickson, Tom. 2008. The Great Minnesota Fish Book. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Last updated: November 22, 2019

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101


This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center.

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