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White Crappie

White crappie


A silvery, deep-bodied, slab-sided fish with a mouth that is proportional to body size. The upper jaw reaches well past the middle of the eye when the mouth is closed. The silvery-colored body shades to green or brown on the back. There are several, usually 7 to 9, vertical dark bars on the sides, and the belly is bright silver or white. The spiny dorsal and soft dorsal fins are broadly connected without a notch between. The anal fin is usually as long and as large as the dorsal fin and has 6 spines. The dorsal fin has 6 spines and the length of its base is much less than the distance from the eye to the front of the dorsal fin. Breeding males become much darker and vividly marked during spawning; females retain their usual coloration and markings. White Crappie have a ski-slope shaped nasal structure, and the forward part of the back is strongly concave.


White crappie Distribution

statewide in lakes and large rivers


small fish, aquatic insects

State Record

record 4 pounds, 9 ounces - Green Castle Lake, Marshall County, May 1981 - Ted Trowbridge, Marshalltown, Iowa

Expert Tip

crappie have delicate mouths, don't get carried away when you set the hook, a firm tug is plenty to set the hook


White Crappie tolerate turbid waters better than Black Crappie and are more abundant in waters that have lots of silt. It is abundant in all reaches of the Mississippi River. Some of the large interior streams have dense populations of White Crappie. Many farm ponds have been stocked with White Crappie, but their well-being in these small water bodies is seldom satisfactory.

White Crappie young feed mostly on copepods, cladocerans and other zooplankton during the first year of life. During late summer of their first year, young crappie start to eat aquatic insects, which remain an important food item for the rest of their life. Crappie start to eat small fish in the second year, which become the staple food in adulthood.

White Crappie spawn in late April or early May when the water temperature reaches 56 degrees. The male crappie fans out a depression in the bottom, usually in a cove or small embayment that is protected from wave action. Many nests may be found in a cove at depths from 1 to 20 feet, but usually 3 to 10 feet. Female White Crappie enter the spawning area and deposit their eggs in one or more of the nests, which are immediately fertilized by the male fish. The number of eggs in a crappie nest varies, but a nest can hold up to 20,000.

The eggs hatch in about 3 days and the sac-fry remain attached to the substrate for several more days. After the yolk sac is absorbed, the young fish free themselves from the bottom by swimming vigorously. The fry leave the nest only at night and do not gather in schools.

Growth of White Crappie in Iowa averages about 2- to 3-inches in the first year, reaching 10- to 12-inches by the fourth year. Crappie seldom exceed 2-pounds in Iowa.

Recent stream sampling information is available from Iowa DNR's biological monitoring and assessment program.


Present in these Iowa water bodies:

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Lake/Stream County Location Acres/Length
Pool 9, Mississippi River Allamakee River Mile 647.9 at Lynxville, WI upstream to River Mile 679.2 at Genoa WI. 35169.00
Pool 19, Mississippi River Lee Amenities listed are at City of Ft. Madison boat ramp. Amenities vary by location in Pool 19 33500.00
Pool 11, Mississippi River Dubuque River Mile 583 at Dubuque, IA upstream to River Mile 615 at Guttenberg, IA. 19875.00
Red Rock Reservoir Marion 4 miles north of Knoxville 15250.00
Pool 18, Mississippi River Louisa Amenities listed are for the Toolsboro Ramp. The ramp at Toolsboro is paved but the road to the ramp is gravel. There is some shore fishing along the parking area and at the outlet of Lake Odessa. Amenities vary by location in pool 18 13300.00
Pool 16, Mississippi River Scott The amenities list are for Buffalo Shores campground in Buffalo, Iowa. Amenities at other locations in Pool 16 vary by location. 13000.00
Rathbun Reservoir Appanoose 8 miles northwest of Centerville 11000.00
Pool 14, Mississippi River Scott Located between Clinton and Davenport, starts at River Mile 522.5 10291.00
Pool 17, Mississippi River Muscatine Amenities list for Muscatine City Ramp. This ramp is located in downtown Muscatine. Amenities vary by location in Pool 17. 7580.00
Coralville Reservoir Johnson 4 miles north of Iowa City 5340.00
Saylorville Reservoir Polk North edge of Des Moines 4970.00
West Okoboji Lake Dickinson northwest edge of Arnolds Park 3847.00
Clear Lake Cerro Gordo south edge of Clear Lake 3684.00
Tuttle Lake Emmet 1 mile east, 2 miles north of Dolliver 2268.00
Big Timber Complex Louisa Two miles south of Muscatine, IA off of X-61/Stewart Rd. 1252.00
Silver Lake (Dickinson) Dickinson west edge of Lake Park 1065.00
Five Island Lake Palo Alto north edge of Emmetsburg 973.00
Lake Macbride Johnson 4 miles West of Solon 940.00
Three Mile Lake Union 3 miles northwest of Afton 880.00
West Swan Lake S.W.M.A. Emmet 3m SE Gruver 830.00
Big Creek Lake Polk 2 miles north of Polk City 814.00
Lake Icaria Adams 4 miles north of Corning 648.00
Twelve Mile Creek Lake Union 4 miles east of Creston 635.00
Little Spirit Lake Dickinson 4 miles north of Orleans 604.00
High Lake Emmet 6 miles east of Wallingford 467.00
Pleasant Creek Lake Linn 4 miles North of Palo 400.00
Lost Grove Lake Scott Six miles east of Eldridge 400.00
Ingham Lake Emmet 6 miles east of Wallingford 357.00
Green Valley Lake Union 2 1/2 miles northwest of Creston 338.00
West Lake (Osceola) Clarke 2 miles west of Osceola 320.00
Badger Creek Lake Madison 5 miles southeast of Van Meter 276.00
Brinker Lake Black Hawk N edge Waterloo, located within George Wyth State Park. 270.00
Martens Lake Bremer 1 mi E of Tripoli 255.00
Lower Gar Lake Dickinson ½ mile south of Arnolds Park 251.00
Little Wall Lake Hamilton 1 1/2 miles south of Jewell 249.00
Lake Cornelia Wright 3 1/2 miles north, 2 miles east of Clarion 243.00
Bussey Lake Clayton 2 m N Guttenberg 240.00
Summit Lake Union West edge of Creston 230.00
Center Lake Dickinson 2 miles west, 1/2 miles south of Spirit Lake 220.00
Quarry Springs Jasper At the 117 South exit off of Interstate 80, Colfax 193.00
Don Williams Lake Boone 5 miles north of Ogden 151.00
Viking Lake Montgomery 4 miles east of Stanton 136.00
Minnewashta Lake Dickinson 1/2 mile south of Arnolds Park 118.00
Iowa River (Marshalltown to Coralville Lake) Iowa This stretch is located in Marshall, Tama, the SW corner of Benton, Iowa, and Johnson County. A popular access is at the Hwy 21 Access, which is part of the Iowa River Corridor Wildlife Area, just south of Belle Plaine. 104.00
Union Grove Lake Tama 4 miles South of Gladbrook 100.00
Diamond Lake Poweshiek 1 mile West of Montezuma 98.00
Lake of Three Fires Taylor 3 miles northeast of Bedford 97.00
Centerville Upper Reservoir Appanoose South edge of Centerville in Lelah Bradley Park along 210th Avenue 96.00
Grays Lake Polk Fleur Drive, Des Moines 96.00
Sand Lake Marshall On the Northeast edge of Marshalltown 95.00
RAPP Park Lakes Page north edge of Shenandoah 95.00
Terry Trueblood Lake Johnson 1.5 miles south of Hwy 6 on Gilbert Street in Iowa City. 90.00
Beeds Lake Franklin 2 miles west, 1 mile north of Hampton 90.00
Cedar Lake Madison 2 miles northeast of Winterset 90.00
Purple Martin Lakes Polk Located at the Dead-End of Army Post Road near Walnut Woods State Park, Des Moines 87.20
Loch Ayr Ringgold 2 miles north of Mt. Ayr 83.00
Pony Creek Lake Mills 3 1/2 miles northwest of Glenwood 83.00
Ellis Lake Lucas 1 mile east of Chariton on the south side of 482nd Street 83.00
Lake Fisher Davis 2 miles northwest of Bloomfield on the south side of Jaguar Trail 82.20
Backbone Lake Delaware 4m SW Strawberry Point, Backbone State Park. 80.00
Binder Lake Adams 1 mile northeast of Corning 76.00
George Wyth Lake Black Hawk N edge Waterloo 75.20
Otter Creek Lake Tama 6 miles Northeast of Toledo 74.00
Upper Pine Lake Hardin 1/2 mile east of Eldora 69.00
Prairie Park Fishery Linn 1.5 miles SSE of Cargill on Otis Road, along the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids 66.80
Iowa River (Iowa Falls to Marshalltown) Marshall This stretch is located in Hardin and Marshall County. A popular access is located in Pine Lake State Park, just east of Eldora on County Road S56. 66.00
Missouri River (Sioux City to Little Sioux) Harrison Chris Larsen Park: 1280 Larsen Park Road/Sioux City, IA. Located on the Sioux City riverfront along the Missouri River. Larsen Park offers 110 acres on the Sioux City Riverfront. Managed by the City of Sioux City. 64.00
Lower Pine Lake Hardin 1/2 mile east of Eldora 62.00
Missouri River (Council Bluffs to state line) Fremont Lake Manawa State Park: 1100 South Shore Drive/Council Bluffs, IA 51501 phone: 712-366-0220. Managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Lake Manawa State Park has boat ramps on the Missouri River within the park. 61.00
Atlantic Quarry Pond 3 Cass 60.90
Des Moines River (Stratford to Saylorville Lake) Polk The Highway 30 Access is in the middle of this river section and is located 3 miles west of Boone on the north side of Highway 30. 57.00
Cedar River (La Porte City to Cedar Rapids) Linn This stretch is located in Benton and Linn County. A popular river access is in the Dudgeon Lake Wildlife Area right of Hwy 150 on the North side of Vinton. 56.00
Greenfield Lake Adair 1 mile southwest of Greenfield 56.00
Big Woods Lake Black Hawk Northwest edge of Cedar Falls 55.00
Cedar River (Cedar Rapids to Moscow) Cedar This stretch is found in Linn and Cedar County. A popular access is found in Palisades State Park which is on Hwy 30 between Cedar Rapids and Mount Vernon. 55.00
Missouri River (Little Sioux to Council Bluffs) Pottawattamie Wilson Island State Recreation Area: 32801 Campground Lane/Missouri Valley, IA 51555 phone-712-642-2069. Managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Wilson Island Recreation Area has 544 acres along the Missouri River near Missouri Valley Iowa. 53.00
Wapsipinicon River (Troy Mills to Oxford Junction) Jones This stretch is located in Linn and Jones County. A popular access on this stretch is in Pinicon Ridge Park, just off Hwy 13 by Central City. 53.00
Des Moines River (Saylorville to Red Rock) Marion A mid-section access point for this stretch of river is at the Pleasant Hill Boat Ramp. This ramp is located on SE Vandalia Drive immediately east of Highway 65. 50.00
Folsom Lake Mills 2 miles west of Glenwood 45.00
McKinley Lake Union 42.80
Upper Gar Lake Dickinson east of Arnolds Park 36.00
Meadow Lake Adair 6 miles northeast of Greenfield 34.00
Atlantic Quarry Pond 2 Cass 31.10
Iowa River (Coralville Lake to River Junction) Johnson This stretch is located in Johnson County. A popular access is the Tailwater East Ramp located right below the Coralville Lake Dam, East of North Liberty and Coralville. 29.00
Jacob Krumm Nature Preserve Lake (west) Jasper 6 miles southeast of Kellogg 28.00
Kent Park Lake Johnson 2.5 miles West of Tiffin 26.00
Mohawk Park Lake Linn East side of the Cedar River off J Ave. 26.00
Nodaway Lake Adair 2 miles southwest of Greenfield 25.00
Windmill Lake Taylor 3 1/2 miles east of New Market 24.00
Seymour Reservoir Wayne 1/2 mile south of Seymour on the west side of S60-- Closed to vehicle traffic November 1st through April 1st 20.00
Interstate Park Lake Franklin 1 mile west, 2 mile south of I-35 & Hwy 3 20.00
East Lake (Lenox) Taylor 1/2 mile north of Lenox 18.00
Wilson Park Lake Taylor 2 1/2 miles southeast of Lenox 17.00
Slip Bluff Lake Decatur Decatur County, 2 miles northwest of Davis City 16.00
Black Pit Cerro Gordo SW Edge Mason City 16.00
Q Pond City Park Clarke NW edge Osceola 14.00
Liberty Lake Ringgold 1/2 mile north of Mt. Ayr 12.00
Burlington Street Dam Johnson On the Iowa River in Iowa City under the Burlington Street bridge 12.00
Seminole Valley Park Lakes Linn Along the Cedar River in Northwest Cedar Rapids 12.00
Ross Area Pit Page 8 miles southeast of Clarinda 12.00
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