Very similar in appearance to the black crappie, the white crappie has spiny gill covers, vertical dark bands around its body and is deep-bodied and silvery in color, ranging from silvery-white on the belly to a silvery-green or even dark green on the back. The dorsal fin has a maximum of six spines. Males may develop dark coloration in the throat region during the spring spawning season.
White crappie spawn in May and June. Males construct nests by fanning out small depressions on the bottom in and around brush, rocks, and logs in water between one and five feet deep. Females lay 5,000 to 30,000 eggs and males guard the eggs till they hatch. Young crappie feed on zooplankton and insect larvae during their first year of life.
White crappie can be found in large rivers, reservoirs and lakes. They are generally more tolerant of turbid (murky) waters where there is very little rooted aquatic vegetation than black crappie.
The native range of white crappie included the area west of the Appalachian Mountains north to southern Ontario and south to the Gulf of Mexico. The range extended west to Minnesota and South Dakota in the north, and to northeastern Mexico in the south. Today the range extends east to the Atlantic coast, and west to include California and portions of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Colorado, Utah, and North Dakota.