View Full Version : Question about female crappie during spawning time

10-13-2011, 09:25 PM
I didn't start crappie fishing until mid-June of this year, so I haven't fished a spawning season yet.

Question: Will I be able to recognize female crappie (from the males) during the spawning season? Do they have a big egg bulge in the belly? Or other identifying marks?

I'm assuming that the right thing to do during the spawn is to release female crappie and only keep good-sized males. Is that right? Are there any other good fish management practices I should know about?

I'm really looking forward to the spring when the fishin' is easy and I can take my nieces and nephews out with good chances that they'll experience catching fish.

Many thanks for your comments.

10-13-2011, 09:49 PM
Females will definately have a bulge. During the peak of the spawn, they sometimes even "drip" eggs out. Males are usually darker than females especially when they are on the bed. Coloration has a lot to do with location too. On Reelfoot male white crappie can get so dark they look purple:). You may notice too that males will have frayed and sometimes bloody tail fins from fanning. I still occasionally get a surprise when I cut one open.

You'll get a hundred different opinions on "responsible" management. My personal code is to take only what I'll eat and stay within the legal limits. Some days I put em back- some days I don't.

It's fun to get the younguns on some fish for sure. I've got a 4 year old nephew I'm training. He has the story telling part down already. :D

Eager Beaver
10-14-2011, 12:41 AM
What you keep depends largely on the size of the body of water you are fishing. It doesn't hurt the population by taking a few females during the spawn. The Crappie are a very prolific fish. EB

10-14-2011, 08:39 AM
I've got a 4 year old nephew I'm training. He has the story telling part down already. :D

LOL! That's the most important part!

Thanks for all the information. My home lake is 100 acres and only has crappie, perch, sunfish, bass and northern pike. They stocked it with walleye 2 years ago but no one has seen any. The bass and northern are catch-and-release only, but you can keep all the crappie, perch and sunfish you like. The populations seem strong; rarely is anyone skunked for the day and it's not uncommon to catch 4-5 keepers per hour.

It's good to know that at least I'll be able to identify females...then I can make keep-or-release decisions on a fish by fish basis.

Thanks again!

10-14-2011, 12:51 PM
One opinion on this subject is that the males guard the nest and young fry so you should not harvest them during this period or the eggs or young fry will be eaten. I try to not keep any fish during this period to do my part in helping the future populations.

10-14-2011, 01:53 PM
One thing you will find is the males will show up before the females as well as you will get larger fish at first when they start coming shallow. As spring moves on females will show up and also the smaller fish will start coming. Usually I get a couple weeks of just males and no trow backs and then it starts changing. Most Females I get have a bulge, but not anything like a bass does, it's much smaller and many time you will not know until you clean them. Seems they (females) go in a number of time and don't lay all their eggs at one time on one nest so sometimes if they have already been in some you may not see a bulge at all really.

10-14-2011, 02:29 PM
males guard the nest and young fry so you should not harvest them during this period or the eggs or young fry will be eaten.

Good thought. It was interesting to learn from this (http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:giXh5hXY4tUJ:dnr.wi.gov/fish/pubs/crappie.pdf+how+much+do+crappie+grow+in+a+year&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESiTzXrRguOcfkm6cN9FCouDT7iyPhwd-ssvtvNElsurIsRnTKyhFXNjIxNbJ8aXeIV12xzTn4zMr0Qa6Yy 9eFbbXIJmfWxKYkri_HO-3BQSHIDVMHwlfjDCzX2XwtEcyhzm2PKj& sig=AHIEtbRsItnPjyH4WKkciMQn2NLoWvjvcw&pli=1 (http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:giXh5hXY4tUJ:dnr.wi.gov/fish/pubs/crappie.pdf+how+much+do+crappie+grow+in+a+year&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESiTzXrRguOcfkm6cN9FCouDT7iyPhwd-ssvtvNElsurIsRnTKyhFXNjIxNbJ8aXeIV12xzTn4zMr0Qa6Yy 9eFbbXIJmfWxKYkri_HO-3BQSHIDVMHwlfjDCzX2XwtEcyhzm2PKj&sig=AHIEtbRsItnPjyH4WKkciMQn2NLoWvjvcw&pli=1) ) that the guarding only happens for a day or two (page 5). Of course, I won't know what day or two that is, so I'll probably throw them back for a few weeks.

I figure if I keep good-sized crappie caught in open water I'll have more than enough for dinner(s). But we'll release the close-to-shore guarders and spawners and any obvious females in open water. I doubt my nieces and nephews will want to clean, cook and eat the fish they catch; it's just the excitement of the catch. And, of course, the story-telling.