According to the book “Small Impound Management in North America” by Neal and Willis, “Crappie management in small impounds should only be attempted by highly motivated pond owners.” If you would rather fish than tinker with your pond year after year, a crappie pond may not be for you. For those that do take the leap, there are a few tradeoffs and caveats to consider.
Motivated pond owners can reap great crappie rewards.
First, you need a pond that is at least 24 acres, though 35 acres or more is infinitely better. Black and white crappie are prolific spawners. A one-acre hatchery pond with 25 pairs of crappie will produce several thousand offspring in the 2-4 inch range. Many of the potential problems with crappie in ponds come from their spawning potential. A large year class of crappie can reduce the available forage base and result in stunting. Additionally, crappie often have boom and bust cycles. You may encounter several thousand offspring one year but next to none the next year. A bigger pond reduces the likelihood of crappie taking over and stunting out, or at least slows the process. Larger ponds also have more open water habitat that helps reduce the resource overlap between species. If you have a large pond or private lake of 100 acres, you are not as likely to have issues; but if you do, it will be much harder to correct.
Second, you have to be willing to sacrifice your bigger bass. To control the tons of smaller crappie you are about to have, you need to manage your pond for a lot of smaller bass that are 10-15 inches in length. Largemouth bass this size will predate on the smaller crappie and hopefully reduce their densities. On the plus side, 10-15 inch size bass have the perfect fillets for fish sandwiches!
Stocking rates vary given that stocking crappie is not often recommended in ponds. Stocking pairs of adult crappie is the best way to start your crappie pond. A pond of 25 acres should have about 20 pairs of black crappie added. You can use white crappie, but black crappie are best recommended for the pond environment. In ponds over 25 acres, add 3 more pair of crappie for every 15 acres.
Pond owners with the right motivation to continually tinker in their ponds can be greatly rewarded with a successful crappie population. For more information about managing your pond, contact the Wildlife Department.