March 19, 2021

I got a picture from my son Alex that showed a crappie that was believed to be a record for the state of California.  The picture showed the fish being held out in front to the angler and appeared to dwarf him with its size.  Being an angler myself, I know how the picture angle can change the appearance of a fish.  That is especially true if you hold it nearer the camera and away from your body (not that I would ever do that!).  I found the picture online and it had another picture from a different angle that better depicted its size.  While it was not the monster of the first picture, it was a huge fish.

A Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) is a freshwater fish found in North America and is one of two species of crappie.  It is similar to the White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis) in size, shape, and habits, except that it is darker, with a pattern of black spots.  The black crappie’s range is uncertain as it has been widely transplanted and easily adapts to many types of water.  It is assumed to have a similar range to the white crappie’s, whose native range is suspected to be in the eastern US and Canada.  As of 2005, populations existed in all 48 contiguous US states and introduced populations exist in Mexico and Panama.  The firm flesh and abundance of fish make these a staple for the weekend fish fry throughout the Midwest.

David Burruss of Clear Lake Outdoors in Lakeport, California, made the catch in mid-February.  Burruss was fishing at Clear Lake, which is known as a premier bass lake.   When Burruss located the crappie, he thought from their size they must be a school of bass on his fish finder.  He is said to have gotten the surprise of his life when he hooked one of the fish and it was instead a record-size crappie.  The crappie weighed 4.33 pounds (4 pounds, 5.3 ounces), breaking a 46-year-old California record of 4.1 pounds.  The crappie measured 17.71 inches.  The fish I caught in Minnesota pictured was the biggest crappie I ever caught.  It would be dwarfed by the California crappie.  As I said, it was a huge fish. 

Thoughts:  One of the unique things about crappie is they run in schools that remain together.  That means if you get a big fish, there are plenty of others in the same spot.  I went to High School near one of the premier crappie lakes in Kansas.  I heard stories of anglers renting U-Haul trailers to load with the schools of fish.  Those were stories of the good ol’ days, and I never encountered that kind of catch.  The problem when I fished the lake was twofold.  One was degradation of the habitat as the Lake silted in and the other was overfishing.  Both are a response to human activity.  If we do not take responsibility for our natural resources, they will not be available for the next generation.  Or even for us.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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