Laterally compressed, with a similar appearance to black crappie, White crappies have vertical bars rather than scattered spots. These silvery fish usually have 5 or 6 spines in dorsal fin, whereas black have seven or more. Spawning males become dark and anglers frequently confuse them with black crappie.
White crappies are commonly found in warm, turbid lakes, reservoirs, and river backwaters. They are frequently seen schooling around submerged logs or submerged boulders. In the evening and early morning they tend to move out into open water to feed. Their temperature preference is the low 80’s. They have greater tolerance for increased alkalinity, and turbidity compared to other sunfish. But require good oxygen levels.
Spawning begins when temperatures reach the low 60’s Fahrenheit. Sexually maturing by the second or third year, crappies build nests in colonies around/in bushes or close to banks, in shallow water. Nests are shallow depression on hard clay bottoms or aquatic vegetation. Males guard the nests until the eggs hatch.
Young crappie feed on zooplankton and insect larvae during their first year of life. As they grow, small fish and aquatic insects are added to their diet. Crappie are especially active at sunrise, sunset and at night during the summer.
White Crappie in Texas
Pomoxis is Greek for "opercle sharp" and refers to the fact that the fish's gill covers have spines. The word annularis is Latin for "having rings" and refers to the dark bands (vertical bars) around the body. The white crappie is deep-bodied and silvery in color, ranging from silvery-white on the belly to a silvery-green or even dark green on the back. There are several vertical bars on the sides. The dorsal fin has a maximum of six spines. Males may develop dark coloration in the throat region during the spring spawning season.
Like other members of the sunfish family, white crappie are nest builders. They are similar to bluegills in that they tend to nest in relatively large "beds", and they have very high reproductive potential which often leads to overpopulation and stunting in small lakes and impoundments. White crappie nest in the spring, generally when water temperatures reach 65°F to 70°F. However, spawning activity has been observed at temperatures as low as 56°F. Fry hatch in three to five days, but remain attached to nest substrate by an adhesive substance from the egg for a few more days. Just before leaving the nest, fry free themselves by vigorous swimming actions. Once free, they begin feeding on microscopic animals. Although fry do not appear to school, fingerlings do. Schools with large numbers of individuals are often found in the middle of lakes. Typically, white crappie grow three to five inches in length the first year, and reach seven to eight inches during the second year. Maturity is usually reached in two to three years. Adults feed on small fish and insects.
Taken together, "crappie" (white and black combined) is the most popular panfish in Texas. The crappie group is the third most preferred group overall, ranking behind only "bass" and "catfish." Crappie are sought after by both bank and boat anglers. Typically, minnows are the preferred bait, often producing monumental results when an aggregation is located, usually around submerged trees, boat docks, or other submerged structures. White crappie in excess of 4.5 pounds have been landed in Texas waters.
Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife