White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis) - Introduced
This 11-inch Connecticut River white crappie has only 6 dorsal spines and its blotches are arranged into irregular vertical bands.
Identification. Similar to black crappie. Very deep-bodied. Large mouth extends to below center of pupil. Dorsal fin shorter than distance from first dorsal spine to the eye. 6 dorsal spines. Base of anal fin a little longer than base of dorsal fin. Anal spines 5-7, usually 6. Dark blotches on sides usually form irregular vertical bands. Typically grayish-green on back fading to brassy or silvery on sides and white on belly. Usually lighter than black crappie, but there is much overlap. Chin of larger adults often has more of a pinkish cast than the black crappie.
This 12-inch specimen from the Connecticut River is probably a black x white crappie hybrid. It has a hint of vertical banding, but has 7 dorsal spines.
Size. Commonly 6 to 11 inches. State survey max. size 12.6 inches. Max. reported size 20.9 inches. World Record 5.2 pounds.
Distribution. Native range includes the Central United States from the Mississippi drainage eastward, excluding the Atlantic coastal states. Has been introduced elsewhere. In Connecticut, white crappie have been found only in the Connecticut River from Wethersfield north to the Massachusetts border. Never as common as black crappie, white crappie may be decreasing in abundance in the Connecticut River, where they are now rare.
All maps created in 2009. See CT DEEP Fish Community Data for updated distributions.
Habits. Prefer slow-moving waters of lakes and larger streams and rivers. Are more tolerant of turbid water than black crappie and less dependent on cover. Spawning habits and methods of capture are similar to those of black crappie.
Comments. White crappie are so similar in appearance to black crappie that most Connecticut anglers probably do not recognize them as a separate species. They can hybridize with black crappie, which makes identification even more daunting.
Text and images adapted from Jacobs, R. P., O'Donnell, E. B., and Connecticut DEEP. (2009). A Pictorial Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Connecticut. Hartford, CT. Available for purchase at the DEEP Store.