The Black Crappie is a large sunfish, although not as big as the Largemouth Bass. It grows up to 16 inches long and can weigh five pounds, but they are usually much smaller. Black crappie closely resemble white crappie, but have deeper bodies. Furthermore, their head, back, and sides are mottled with dusky or black blotches. These blotches do not form vertical bars as on white crappie. The most reliable characteristic, however, is that black crappie have seven or eight dorsal spines compared to the five or six of a white crappie. The dorsal fin is also set further forward on the body of a black crappie than it is on a white crappie. Black Crappie spawn (breed) in May and June. Male fish sweep out a nest in sand or gravel in water three to eight feet deep. After the female lays up to 60,000 eggs in the nest, she swims away and the male guards the eggs. He will stay with the baby fish until they are able to start feeding. Black Crappie grow two to three inches their first year.
The black crappie's habitats are lakes, reservoirs, borrow pits, and navigation pools in large rivers. They prefer areas with little or no current, clear water, and abundant cover such as submerged timber or aquatic vegetation, as well as sand or mud bottoms like those found in lakes, ponds, streams, and sloughs.