Black Crappie

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Black Crappie

Black crappie, sometimes known as calico bass, is a member of the sunfish family. These fish are immensely popular, particularly in central Maine, despite the fact that most have been artificially introduced. Black crappies are school fish, leading to very fast, intense fishing, an experience loved by many anglers. Their relative ease of fishing also lends the black crappie to being an ideal fish for those looking to advance from the more abundant perch and present themselves with more of a challenge.

Adult black crappies are typically around 6-12 inches in length and weigh somewhere between two and three pounds. Larger black crappies are not uncommon in Maine, with some fish reaching 15 inches in length and weighing in at over three pounds. As the alternative name suggests, black crappies loosely resemble bass, with a very narrow, deep body shape and dorsal fin spines. Their coloration ranges from olive to golden brown, with irregular black patches adorning much of their sides.

Black crappies tend to head for more sheltered waters, with small bays and sheltered coves particular hotspots, particularly during breeding. They also tend to retreat to deeper waters during the daytime, which is worth bearing in mind when deciding the depth of your lure. Fishing for black crappies is most productive during the early morning or early evening whilst the air is still relatively cool. However, in particularly active waters, black crappie can still be caught relatively easily throughout the daytime with more patience.

Another advantage of the black crappie is the range of bait you can use with which to attract them. Live bait such as minnows, insects and small worms can be used to good effect, as can jigs, spinners and spoons. The bait you select will largely be dependant on the time of year as well as the time of day. During the winter months when the water is coldest, black crappie tend to be sluggish and so fishing more slowly with live bait or jigs is liable to be more successful. If you hit the waters either at dawn or dusk, black crappie are more likely to be found in shallower waters, allowing you to use a larger range of lures.

Black crappies are most prominent in southern Maine waters. Popular spots include Sebago Lake and stretches of the Belgrades, though by and large black crappie can be found throughout many of southern Maine’s lakes and rivers.