Calico Bass, Papermouth
Average 7-9 inches. Crappie can grow to 9-15 inches in quality populations.
2.80 lbs; Don J. Benson; Burbank Slough, Walla Walla County; June 21, 1988
White crappie are one of several "panfish" species in Washington and are very popular with anglers, because they are relatively easy to catch and are considered excellent eating. Crappie can be identified by their large rounded dorsal and anal fins, and their deep, but narrow bodies, giving a compressed "pancake" appearance. Black crappies are the more plentiful of the two species. They have seven or eight dorsal spines and dark, irregularly-spaced blotches on the side. White crappies have five or six dorsal spines, and are usually shaded with dark vertical bars. They also do not have the number of black spots on their sides that black crappie do.
White crappie can be found statewide in Washington’s inland lakes. Today, the most popular and productive crappie fishing is in the waters of the Columbia Irrigation Project, including Banks Lake, Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir. Lake Washington, Silver Lake (Cowlitz County), the Columbia and Snake rivers, and many smaller lakes and ponds around the state are also popular and productive crappie fishing spots.
Quality White Crappie Waters:
Alder Lake (Pierce County)
Horseshoe Lake (Clark County)
Ashes Lake (Skamania County)
Lake Umatilla (Benton County)
Silver Lake (Cowlitz County)
Vancouver Lake (Clark County)
There are currently 19 crappie populations in Washington that exhibit exceptional growth rates where WDFW has implemented special regulations to provide more consistent fisheries for larger fish. Anglers fishing these lakes are restricted in the size and number of crappie that they can harvest, but have the opportunity to harvest fish that are larger than average. Regulations may change from year to year, so make sure you consult the latest regulations pamphlet for accurate information on the water you intend to fish.
Alkali Lake (Grant County) - Min. Size 8”. Daily Limit 10
Banks Lake (Grant County) - Min. Size 9”. Daily Limit 10
Big Lake (Skagit County) - Min. Size 9”. Daily Limit 10
Black Lake (Thurston County) - Min. Size 9”. Daily Limit 10
Campbell Lake (Skagit County) - Min. Size 9”. Daily Limit 10
Cassidy Lake (Snohomish County) - Min. Size 9”. Daily Limit 10
Coffeepot Lake (Lincoln County) - Min. Size 9”. Daily Limit 10
Downs Lake (Lincoln/Spokane County) - Min. Size 9”. Daily Limit 10
Duck Lake (Grays Harbor County) - Min. Size 9”. Daily Limit 10
Eloika Lake (Spokane County) - Min. Size 9”. Daily Limit 10
Lower Goose Lake (Grant County) - Min. Size 9”. Daily Limit 10
Moses Lake (Grant County) - Min. Size 9”. Daily Limit 10
Potholes Reservoir (Grant County) - Min. Size 9”. Up to 25 Bluegill and Crappie Combined
Roesiger Lake (Snohomish County) - Min. Size 9”. Daily Limit 10
Lake Sawyer (King County) - Min. Size 9”. Daily Limit 10
Silver Lake (Cowlitz County) - Min. Size 9”. Daily Limit 10
Silver Lake (Spokane County) - Min. Size 9”. Daily Limit 10
Sprague Lake (Adams/Lincoln Counties) - Min. Size 9”. Up to 25 Bluegill and Crappie Combined
Tanwax Lake (Pierce County - Min. Size 9”. Daily Limit 10
Crappie can be a dependable year-round opportunity. They are the earliest spawners of the sunfish family, actively spawning when water temperatures approach 55° F. Unlike bass, these fish are commonly found in schools during the spring. They tend to scatter after spawning, and are more likely to be found in deeper water during the summer. Black crappies seem to be more dependent on vegetation, while white crappies do better in more turbid waters. Both species are often found congregated around underwater structure, such as old pilings, stumps, snags, or near rocks or the mouths of feeder streams. Fishing at night can also be productive where permitted.
They will take nearly every kind of lure, from garden hackle to small bass plugs, but small plastic tube jigs and curly-tailed grubs are the most popular and consistent producers. Fly fishing for warmwater fish is growing in popularity and can be very productive for panfish such as crappie, as well as largemouth and smallmouth bass. When the water is cool (below 55° F), try tipping the lure with a bit of bait. Small bass bugs and high-riding hair bugs on a fly rod work well in the spring after the water has warmed. Other good artificial lures include wet flies and streamers, plus spinners, small spoons, and small poppers.
Crappies will not normally strike a fast-moving target, so moving the lure slowly is a key to success. In shallow water, an effective retrieve can be achieved by hanging a tube jig or curly-tailed below a bobber, then adjusting the depth to match that of the fish. Move the bobber very slowly, then strike gently (merely lifting the rod is usually enough) when the bobber moves sideways or dips. A gentle hook-set is necessary because of the crappies' very thin mouth. For the best landing success, play the fish carefully and use a landing net.