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There are two types of crappies that swim in Minnesota waters - the white crappie and the black. Both species are similar in shape and size, but the difference is in the dorsal spines (forward dorsal fin), just forward of the dorsal fin. The Black Crappie has seven or eight spines and the White Crappie six. Other differences are that the Black Crappie is darker in color, relative to the white.
Crappies occupy an area in North America east of the Rocky Mountains from southern Canada to the Gulf States. They have been introduced elsewhere. Being members of the sunfish family, crappies can occupy waters in lakes or streams.
Spawning from May though July, Black Crappies make a nest that is circular in shape on gravel. When the water temperature is between 64 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, spawning takes place. Eggs stick to gravel, rocks, and sand or to the roots of plants. Males guard the nest until fry are too much for him to manage.
White Crappies spawn in water three to six feet or deeper. Their eggs are stuck to underwater vegetation or stumps. Male White Crappies also defend eggs and keeps the water in motion with fin activity. They will bite other fish that come to close to the eggs and young.
The Black Crappie, also called Calico Bass, prefers a diet of aquatic insects and larvae that it finds among underwater vegetation. It will also eat small minnows. It is most active in the early morning, evening, and at night. The White Crappie, also called White Bass, is carnivorous. It eats aquatic insects and their larvae, crustaceans and other fishes.
Being a protected game fish in Minnesota, crappies may be fished year ‘round with daily and possession limits being imposed. They are excellent eating. The state record caught white crappie is 3 pounds, 15 ounces and the record black five pounds even.