Black Crappie 3-4"
Black crappies spawn in the spring or early summer, when water temperatures reach 66 to 68 degrees. Like other sunfish, the males clean dish-shaped nests on the bottom, near or among underwater plants in three to six feet of water. The nests are eight to 15 inches in diameter, in colonies, but spaced five to six feet apart. A half-pound black crappie female produces from 20,000 to 50,000 eggs, and may spawn in the nest of more than one male. The males guard the nest and eggs, which hatch in three to five days. The males protect the hatched fry for a short time, until the young fish leave the nest. Immature crappies eat tiny crustaceans and aquatic insects and grow fast, to about 3 1/2 inches the first year and to eight inches the second year. It usually takes four years for black crappies to reach 12 inches, and the fish may grow to 16 inches long, making them one of our largest panfishes. They mature in two years. As they grow, black crappie food preferences change to eating other fish, but as adults they also feed on mayflies, midges, dragonflies, other aquatic insects and crustaceans.