White Crappie vs Black Crappie: How To Tell The Difference

In Florida, they call the fish a “speck.” Louisiana anglers call the same fish a sac-a-lait. Some Southern anglers pronounce crappie as “crappy” and Northern and Midwestern fishermen pronounce the same fish as “croppie.” No matter how you pronounce crappie, its genus name is Pomoxis and the two recognized species of this genus are the white crappie and the black crappie. Both species can be found in natural lakes, manmade reservoirs and rivers throughout the United States.

Although both species look similar, there are some differences that will help you tell these crappie apart. Here is a look at the two species of crappie with some clues on how to tell which one you just caught.

Black Crappie Vs White Crappie

White crappie vs black crappie

This crappie has dark olive with shades of emerald and purple on its back and silvery or white sides and belly. Its sides are mottled with dark green or black arranged in speckles and blotches. A broad dark brown stripe often extends along the middle of its back from the front of the dorsal fin to the tip of the lower jaw and underneath the head along the throat. The dorsal, tail and anal fins are marked with a pattern of black which gives the fins a dark coloring with whitish spots. The black crappie’s dorsal fin usually features seven or eight spines. The distance from the center of its eye to the beginning of the dorsal fin is nearly the same as the length of the base of the dorsal fin. This crappie’s body is more compact with a snub-nosed look and a small mouth.

White Crappie Vs Black Crappie

White crappie vs black crappie

White crappie also has a dark olive back with emerald and purple coloring. Its sides and belly fade to silver and white. The sides are also mottled with brown and black, but the markings tend to form regularly arranged narrow vertical bars rather than the speckles and blotches appearing on black crappie. The dorsal, tail and anal fins are banded and mottled in black. Although it features dark markings, the white crappie is a lot lighter species than the black crappie. The distance from the center of the eye to the front of the dorsal fin is longer than the total length of the base of the dorsal fin on white crappie. This panfish usually has six spines on its top fin. White crappie have an elongated body and a larger mouth.

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