Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

TWRA's Region 4 - East Tennessee

Reservoir Fisheries Management Program

White Crappie - Pomoxis annularis

(This page was last updated - 07/10/2007)

Scientific name: Pomoxis annularis (Pomoxis "sharp opercle", annularis "having rings")

Common names: white crappie, papermouth, white perch

white crappie
A Melton Hill Reservoir white crappie - photo by Jim Negus

Species Overview

White crappie is one of two species of crappie and are in the same taxonomic family as black bass and sunfish. They are found throughout much the United States in rivers, reservoirs, and lakes. White crappie are uncommon in streams and more tolerant of turbidity than black crappie.

The Tennessee state angling record taken from a pond in 1968 weighed 5 pounds and 1 ounce.


White crappie have 5-6 dorsal fin spines compared to the 7-8 found in black crappie. They have vertical bands of pigmentation and the length of the dorsal fin base is less than the distance between the front of the dorsal fin to the center of the eye. They are less high bodied than black crappie. (see the black crappie page)


YOY white and black crappie
Young-of-the-year Cherokee Reservoir black and white crappie - photo by Jim Negus


Young white crappie feed on plankton, microcrustacea, and aquatic insects. Small fish including small shad and minnows become important food items for adult crappie.

Adult crappie congregate in loose groups close to docks, blowdown trees, and other structures. They are commonly caught by anglers using live minnows, small grubs, or a "float and fly".

Crappie tend to over-populate and stunt when stocked into small impoundments and are not recommended for farm ponds.

Life Cycle

Spawning activity begins when water temperatures reach into the mid to upper 50's and between April and June in much of Tennessee. Males fan out areas in a variety of silt free sediments in shallow protected water. Nest are usually located close to various types of cover including submerged trees, logs, and vegetation.

Females can produce upwards of 160,000 eggs depending on her size and condition. Males guard the nests until the fry leave the area.


The TWRA began stocking crappie into several reservoirs in earnest beginning in the early 1990s and crappie have now become a significant component of the state's stocking program. White crappie have been stocked less often than black crappie.


Etnier, D. and W. Starnes. 1993. The Fishes of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Press.