What Do Crappie Eat? A Quick Guide

Ask any crappie enthusiast what these voracious fish eat. They’ll likely answer, “Whatever I throw!”

This is true, though, because crappies aren’t known for being picky about the food they eat. However, you will be able to choose the best lures or live bait to catch crappie.

We have the answer to your question about the crappie diet. Below, you will find information on their lifestyle and seasons.

Here’s an answer for those in hurry:

  • Zooplankton
  • Tiny insects, like water boatmen
  • Grass or “ghost” shrimp
  • Minnows, particularly Threadfin shads and flatheads
  • Immature pike and walleye, bluegill, crappie, and other species
  • Small amphibians such as frogs and crayfish
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  • How to select the best lure and technique for each situation
  • Secrets from crappie legends that will.Change the way that you fish slabs.
  • Live bait: How to get the best out of it, rig it as a skimmerChampion of the tournament, and turn the odds in your favor.
  • How to improve your spider-rigging setup.
  • Here are some tips for master night fishing when the heat really is on.
  • Tips and techniques that workAll the time, all the time.
  • and there’s more!

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Crappie Basics

Crappie behavior is predictable. It’s important to understand the species of crappie and their behavior.


We’ve already explained that there are two types of crappie, as well as a variety of hybrids. Pomoxis annularis is the primary papermouth, while Pomoxis nucifaculatus is the secondary. These are also known as white crappie and black crappie. The Blacknosed and Magnolia are hybrids.

This is because the diets of these species are different, and hybrids blur these distinctions.

Feeding Behavior

Crappie is ambush predators and hunts in an energy-conserving way. Crappie does not roam in search of food, but rather waits and strikes quickly.

Crappie is most active between dawn and dusk. They are not daytime feeders. Crappie is active at night, which is why many anglers take advantage of this fact.

What does Crappie Eat?

Life Cycle

Crappie reproduces at alarming rates and can cause problems in small ponds due to overpopulation. The Magnolia hybrid, which is sterile and consists of fish from both sexes, attempts to address this problem. This allows the stocking of streams, lakes, and ponds without concern for long-term effects.

Crappie eggs hatch into crappie, so eating becomes a top priority. They’ll start feeding as soon as they hatch. These tiny fries are hungry for small meals and find nutrients from microscopic animals such as mice. zooplankton, minute insects like water boatmen (family Corixidae), and other invertebrates like grass shrimp (genus Palaemonetes).

Although it may not seem like much at first, it is enough to drive tremendous growth. According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Brad E. Hammers (left) and N. Corey Oakley (right), crappie fry can grow up to four inches within the first year of this diet.

When crappie grows to the size of your hand, about as big as your hands, they will move on to larger prey and continue to eat insects of all types. They’ll turn to immature fish from different species, including pike, bluegill, and crappie.

They are cannibalistic, yes!

Mature crappie prey on minnows and shad all types, but insects, crustaceans such as crawfish, and small amphibians such as frogs, are all included. They are definitely on the menu. It’s possible to hear crappie say that they “feed up”, and that is largely true. However, they will not pass up a good meal at the bottom if they can.

Seasonal Variation

Crappie matures prefer a diet of minnows and small fish they consider anything they can eat as a meal. In winter and spring, however, it’s more difficult to find a meal, so they will revert to the old ways.Insects and crustaceans primary food sources

Variation between Species

Black crappie prefers clearer water that is cooler and has plenty of vegetation, such as weed beds. They consume plenty ofMinnowsHowever, they eat a greater proportion of invertebrates than the white crappie.

White crappie, on the other hand, prefers murkier water and eat primarily on things such as had and fathead minnows they will also eat. They will also eat they will eat crawfish and insects but prefer minnows.

Myth Busted: Crappie Do Not Eat Crawfish

Crappie is not known to eat crawfish, as you’ve likely heard. This old chestnut is refusing to die, regardless of whether they don’t “feed down”, or don’t like the taste.

Crawfish is a common food source for crappie, particularly when there are no other options. The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife and Delaware’s Division of Fish & Wildlife confirm this. Many fishermen have found crawfish in their stomachs. Crappie doesn’t care about what you eat.

Last Thoughts

We hope you found this article useful in answering your questions about crappie’s feeding habits.

Experienced anglers will tell you that knowing more about crappie’s diet can help you plan your fishing to coincide, or not, with natural prey items. It can also help you choose the right lure to attract their attention.

We’d love to know if this helped you.

Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.