Four Kinds of Crappies   Leave a comment

Kyle with hybrid crappie weighing 2 plus pounds.

Kyle with hybrid crappie weighing 2 plus pounds.


From left to right.  Black Nose Crappie, True Black Crappie, Natural hybrid Black Crappie and True White Crappie.

From left to right. Black Nose Crappie, True Black Crappie, Natural Hybrid Black Crappie and True White Crappies

Although our quarry of choice today is the Black Crappie, the discussion soon turns to the four types of crappies here in southern Illinois on Kinkaid Lake.

As we pull out of the cove concealing Paul Ice Boat Ramp, Kyle explains that the really large “Black Crappie” of the lake is actually a hybrid.  The other species in the lake are Blacknose crappie, black crappie and white crappie.

Kyle Schoenherr is a professional crappie angler and local guide.  He has consulted with biologists about the hybrids and all seem to agree with his assessment of the genealogy of these big fish.

A number of Kyle’s clients have caught crappies over 2 pounds.  All of the big fish have certain traits in common.  He has shown images of the fish to biologists in KY and TN and they refer to them as Coosa River Hybrids.  Kyle has found similar fish in KY Lake and the Alabama River while fishing tournaments.

The hybrid fish resemble the white crappie generally except they have 7 or 8 spines in the dorsal fin and their color is reminiscent of the black crappie.  White crappies have 6 spines.  The hybrids have the speckled pattern on the sides but also have vertical bars which the whites do not display.

The fish grow quickly and have some of the habits of both the white and black crappie.  They appear to be a naturally produced hybrid and not one introduced to the lake.

An internet search finds that the first Hybrids came from Arkansas where they were the offspring of Blacknose crappie and the true white crappie.  Kinkaid has two populations of introduced Blacknose crappie.  One was introduced in September of 2010 and the other in August of 2012.

The literature maintains that hybrids appear naturally but are not common.  They have the physical appearance of one species and the spine count of the other.  The biggest crappies seem to be the hybrids.  The second generation fish will reproduce but do not grow fast and are highly susceptible to predation from largemouth bass and bluegill.  The first generation fish grow faster and weigh more than either the black crappie or white crappie.

So it is that we find four kinds of crappie.  We are catching Black Crappie, Blacknose Crappie, White Crappie and Hybrid Crappie.

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