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  Crappie Management

Crappie are the second most popular sport fish in the southern United States. Some fishermen are very passionate about one particular species called crappie and must have them in their ponds. Good crappie management should start with pond or lake design. All good crappie ponds will have a pond drain, pea gravel beds (in 3 ft of water), boat ramp, and structure for bluegill and crappie. There are two species of crappie; the black and the white.

Black crappie are best suited for stocking in ponds. Black Crappie will not eat floating fish feed. The diets of black crappie and largemouth bass are very similar. It should also be noted that correctly managed crappie ponds usually will not have big largemouth bass to catch.  If you desire big bass, then you should not add crappie to your pond. There is no magic way to stocking crappie in small private ponds or lakes and be successful. It is the management of a pond with crappie that makes the difference!

For the diehard crappie lover who must have crappie pond and will adhere to management, stock 40 adult black crappie per acre in an established balanced bass and bluegill pond. Catch and remove largemouth bass when they are longer than 14 inches. This will create a crowd of smaller bass to control the crappie population and allow the remaining fish to grow faster. The key to raising large crappie is to increase the density of predators by overcrowding the pond with largemouth bass. Crappie are inconsistent spawners, some years you get lots of reproduction and then very little.

Crappie growth requires lots of small bluegill 3 inches. Bluegills spawning beds and a good bluegill feeding program is a must for a good crappie pond. In years that overpopulation of crappie accrue, the pond should be drawn down to half its normal surface area in late summer or early in the fall to let the bass work on the overpopulation of crappie. Good crappie fishing in small ponds is difficult to maintain for long periods of time. If the pond does get out of balance and overpopulated with small crappie, stock 30-50 largemouth bass (6 inches and up) per acre. This will increase predation on the small crappie and help reduce the population size. Please note one crappie can reproduce over 100,000 eggs so overpopulation with small crappie will happen. You must be looking for it and be on top of it when it happens.

You need to manage the bluegill so you will have lots of reproductions from your bluegill to feed the crappie. Fish for crappie often, and never throw a crappie back in the pond. If crappie appear skinny and slow growing, stock 35 to 50 bass (6 inches and up) per acre to eat more crappie, and lake draw down will help. Private ponds do not usually have the fishing pressure needed for a good crappie pond. It will take good management and a lot of crappie fishing for it to work. My experience with crappie ponds is that the land owner or lake owner start out doing everything needed to have a good crappie pond and after 6 or 7 years they lose interest then the pond or lake gets out of balance. Good crappie management should start when the first crappie is stocked and ends when the pond is drained and the pond is started over. Finally, if you are considering stocking crappie, contact Suttle Fish Farm for additional help.

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