Illustration by Duane Raver
Scientific Name: Pomoxis nigromaculatus
Classification: Game fish
Abundance: Common throughout NC.
Species Profile (pdf)
Black crappie (Photo: NCWRC)
Black crappie (Jessica Baumann, NCWRC Fisheries biologist, holds two black crappie during sampling on Shearon Harris. Photo: NCWRC)
Two species found throughout North America are the black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) and the white crappie (Pomoxis annularis). They are members of the sunfish family, which also includes largemouth bass and bluegill. Crappies are two of the largest of the panfish species. Black crappie have been widely stocked across the state. They thrive in clear ponds, natural lakes and reservoirs with moderate vegetation. Black crappie are also common in large, slow-moving rivers in the Coastal Plain but will avoid areas that are turbid or murky.
The black crappie is distinguished by irregularly spaced black blotches on its silvery-green to yellowish sides. In the white crappie these blotches often formvertical bars. The black crappie has a dark green, olive-colored back and a thin,compressed body, which is somewhat deeper than that of white crappie. Its dorsal and anal fins are about the same shape and size and are colored with rows of greenish black spots. The black crappie has 7 or 8 spiny dorsal fin rays, while the white crappie only has 5 or 6. Because crossbreeding sometimes occurs between black and white crappies and water quality often affects fish coloration, counting spiny dorsal fin rays is the best method for distinguishing between the two species.
Learn more by reading the Black Crappie Species Profile.
Inland Fishing Regulations
Regulatory authority between the Wildlife Resources Commission and Division of Marine Fisheries. Inland game fish regulations include Manner of Taking, Seasons and Using Trotlines and Set-hooks.
Warmwater Game Fish
Game fish size and creel limits. Also, Bass and Morone (striped bass) Identification Charts.
Effective bait and lures are small jigs, minnows, silver spoons, flies and spinners fished along shorelines, around sub-merged brush piles and near fallen trees. Fishing vertically is effective when black crappie are deep enough to tolerate a boat directly overhead. Drifting or trolling with jigs works well when crappie are roaming open waters. To attract black crappie, anglers will often sink fish hides or “hurdles” consisting of Christmas trees and other woody debris.
Chowan River, Roanoke River, Cashie River, Lake Mattamuskeet, Lake Gaston, Falls of the Neuse Reservoir, Shearon Harris Reservoir, Jordan Reservoir, High Rock Lake, Badin Lake, Lake Tillery, Blewett Falls Lake, Lake Rhodhiss, Lake Norman, Lake Wylie, Neuse River (downstream of Pelican Landing), Tar River (from Greenville downstream to Washington)
2015 – Black Crappie Population Characteristics within Main and Rose Bay Canals, Lake Mattamuskeet, 2014 (PDF)
2014 – Lake Mattamuskeet Angler Survey (PDF)
2014 – Lake Mattamuskeet Sport Fish Survey (PDF)
2021 - Angler Use Patterns on Randleman Lake (PDF)
2021 - High Rock Lake Black Crappie Population Assessment - 2019 (PDF)
2020 - An Overview of the Shearon Harris Reservoir Habitat Enhancement Project-UPDATE (PDF)
2020 - Cane Creek Lake: Black Crappie Surveys 2001-2019 (PDF)
2019 - Black Crappie in B. Everett Jordan Lake: 15 Years of Monitoring (PDF)
2018 - Lake Tillery Black Crappie Population Assessment- 2017 (PDF)
2011 - Sportfish Populations in Northwest River and Tulls Creek(PDF)
2009 - Assessment of the Crappie Population in Lake James, North Carolina(PDF)
2008 - Assessment of the Crappie Population in Lake Rhodhiss (PDF)
Where to Fish
NC Freshwater Fishing State Record Program
NC Angler Recognition Program (NCARP)