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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Black Crappie - Pomoxis nigromaculatus

Non-native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNA

Agency Status

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General Description
The black crappie is more widespread across eastern Montana than the white crappie with some scattered populations into central and western Montana. As the name implies, it is darker colored than the white crappie, and has seven or eight dorsal spines instead of the five or six spines found on the white. Crappies are spring-spawning nest-builders like all the other sunfish. Crappies are fun to catch, good to eat, and can weigh up to 3 pounds although 1/2 pound fish are the rule. They are schooling fish and notorious for their love of stumps, debris piles, or other cover. Crappies are spring-spawning nest-builders like all the other sunfish.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Fish from turbid waters may be light colored.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 1007

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Favors lakes, reservoirs, and relatively large clear streams with sandy to mucky bottoms and aquatic vegetation. Prefers slow portions of streams.

Food Habits
Aquatic insects, crustaceans, and other aquatic invert. Minnows and other small fishes are important in diet of larger individuals.

Often found in association with white crappie where collected in southeast Montana.

Reproductive Characteristics
Sexually mature in 2-3 years. Spawns May - June when water temperatures reach 58-64 degrees F., but may spawn later in summer. Incubation: 3-5 days.

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Citation for data on this website:
Black Crappie — Pomoxis nigromaculatus.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from