White crappie (Pomoxis annularis) - pronounced "croppie", can be identified by their silvery body with seven to nine dark bands running down each side and five to six spines on the dorsal fin. They are often confused with the black crappie which have 7 - 8 dorsal spines and sides marked with irregular dark spots. These spots are the reason black crappie are sometimes called "calico bass." Crappies are a member of the sunfish family which includes bluegills and pumpkinseeds.
Crappies can be found in lakes, ponds, and slow, large streams with a mud bottom, weeds and brush piles. This is the perfect habitat to its primary food sources - small fish and aquatic insects. It also provides adequate shelter during the May - June spawning period when 5,000-30,000 eggs are laid. The fry will grow to an average adult size of five to fourteen inches and weight of six ounces to one pound.
The white crappie's early history in Ohio is unclear. Populations increased between 1810-1850, when populations of predatory fish, such as pike, pickerel and muskellunge decreased. Before 1875, all white crappie reports were lumped together with those of the black crappie. With the construction of the canals in Ohio, the crappie's range expanded.
After 1875, white crappie could be found in Lake Erie but was more numerous in the Ohio River and inland lakes. Northeastern Ohio was the area least populated with white crappies. The species was an important commercial fish, with 1,500 pounds being taken from Buckeye Lake in 1894 and 32,300 pounds from Indian Lake the same year.
From 1920 to 1950, the state captured thousands of adult crappies and released them throughout Ohio. Many of these releases were successful in the formation of new crappie populations.
With changing waters and lake bottoms crappie populations decreased in Ohio. Buckeye Lake in particular saw a great decline in population from 1955-1980. However, white crappie are still abundant throughout Ohio, mostly throughout the southern portion of the state, and continue to be a favorite among fisherman as both a sport and bait fish as well.
The state record for white crappie was set in 1995, at 3.9 pounds, 18.5 inches long. It was caught in a private pond in Zanesville.