A Crappie is one of two varieties, either a Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) or White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis). Black Crappie and White Crappie are also called Sac-a-lait in South Louisiana. Both varieties look very similar but they are not hard to tell apart once you know what to look for. Both species are members of the sunfish family. They have compressed flat bodies like bluegills and other bream. They have white sides with numerous black or dark green dots.
The White Sac-a-lait or White Crappie can be distinguished from the Black Crappie due to their dot distributed which forms bars on the side of the fish whereas the Black Crappie has its spots randomly but evenly distributed. The Black Crappie also has a slightly more compressed body. The Black Sac-a-lait generally prefer clearer water with more flow than the White Crappie although there is considerable overlap in terrain and often both species are caught side-by-side.
Fishing Tip: A good selection of lures can be the difference between a fishless session or a fridge full of Crappie. Changing lures colors can often get a school of Crappie to start biting again. I personally use the kit below if I’m chasing Crappie with jigs.
Crappie can be found throughout much of the Mississippi Valley and all of Louisiana with the White Crappie being the most common of the two. Maximum size for both species is about 6 pounds.
Crappie or Sac-a-lait are a schooling fish and are very important gamefish in the United States. Crappie are most often caught in the spring time when the annual spawn occurs but can be caught year round. They become less active in very cold water or very warm water. Crappie will always hold on some type of structure and are quite sensitive to light, often moving deeper during the midday hours.
Key Notes and Tips:
- Picture of a 4 pound Crappie!
- Crappie feed primarily on smaller fish.
- Crappie are caught almost exclusively on natural bait or small jigs.
- In some places night fishing under lights is very popular.
- If you are into a school of crappie and they stop biting you can often get them started again by switching the color of your lure or by fishing slightly deeper.
- The word Sac-a-lait comes from the fine eating flesh of the fish, it is French for sack of milk.