Episodes - Lessons
Crappie Stewardship
Crappie Stewardship

One of the most popular panfish that anglers can catch in their freshwaters is the crappie. These panfish provide a lot of fast and fun action to anglers and yet, they are often overlooked in many fishable waters. You can actually find them in all 48 contiguous states and can fish for them all-year-long in rivers and open waters.

Although crappies are overlooked, they do play an important role in their ecosystems. They feed on many zooplankton, insects, minnows, and shad, and are great sources of food for predators such as walleye, bass, and northern pike. If these fish were completely removed from their ecosystems, their disappearance would challenge the survival of larger game fish and birds that depend on crappies for food, and could potentially alter ecosystems greatly.

Okay, okay … if that’s so, how does crappie fishing actually help the environment? Aren’t we taking crappie away?

That’s why we have fishing regulations, which are basically laws that limit what anglers can take from the environment. And by following these laws, anglers can actually help conserve and improve the environment for future generations! How can that be? Well every state’s fishing laws are based on the research that fisheries biologists do on our water sources. They check on the health of the fish populations and their ecosystems. When something is wrong with a fishery, the laws can be altered to improve conditions.

So what kind of limits can you follow as an angler?

Size limits - These restrict the length of fish you can keep. Size limits protect the harvest of young fish and give them a chance to grow strong and reproduce! To see if your fish is for keeps, use a measuring board to estimate the length of your fish.

Creel limits – This law controls the number of a species each person can take in a day. It ensures you do not overfish and sustains a natural balance in the ecosystem. For example, crappie can reproduce quickly and can overcrowd small water bodies if not controlled by anglers. So creel limits for crappie may be higher or smaller in different water bodies.

Seasonal limits – Although you can catch crappie all year long, some states may prohibit anglers from legally fishing for crappie during certain seasons. For example, many fish spawn during the springtime, and laws will limit the time anglers can fish during the spring.  Seasonal limits may also limit give narrower time periods to fish on waterbodies that are heavily fished.

Limits are definitely the way to go! But remember … every state has different regulations. To make sure you are following your state’s laws, check your Department of Natural Resources’s fishing regulations.

So now that you know the laws, are there more ways you can give back to Mother Earth when fishing? And what are some tips to fishing for crappie all-year-round? Unriddle those critical questions by watching the video or clicking on the "Learn More" tab below. Oh! And don't forget to download the lesson activity for your class. You will produce your own public announcement videos for fishery conservation!

For all kinds of other helpful information and resources on how kids can learn where-to and how-to go fishing, explore our companion KidsFishing.US website. To discover more about becoming a future angler, visit our educational partners that helped make this video, webpage and lesson possible by clicking on their logos below.

And if you decide to fish, you really need to get serious about being a safe angler. So take the complete online boating and water safety course using the link below.

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