The Black Crappie puts up a fight but is worth the delicious payoff

By Sean Johnston

As we ease from the excitement of summer into the busy early days of September, many of us start to turn our minds towards the busy “harvest” season of the fall. I’ve spent the better part of this summer discovering the Lac du Bonnet area and thanks to my new favourite fish, I’m not so sure I want to rush into hunting season. 

As Manitobans, we are very fond of two kinds of fish, Walleye (pickerel), and Smoked Goldeye, even naming our Winnipeg baseball team after the latter. I would like to submit a 3rd species to this “MB’s Most Edible” list. The humble Black Crappie.

Black Crappie are a wonderful species to target throughout the hot summer months when the prized walleye tend to spread out around our lakes. As the water temperature begins to climb into the 70°s, turn your eyes towards deeper holes in lakes like Lac du Bonnet, where water temperatures will be colder.

Crappie have shockingly small mouths. Make sure next time you’re by our store in Selkirk, or any of the great small tackle shops across the province, to add some 1/16th oz jigs and grub plastics to your tackle box. I swear by the Gulp Alive Maggots, Crappie can’t seem to get enough of them when tipped on a dark jig with a white or translucent grub plastic presentation. For additional fun, get yourself a panfish setup like the Quantum Accurist 6’6” Medium Ultrafast rod ( This rod paired with any light duty reel adds a sensitivity that really lets you feel the fish bite, and fight!

So, you’ve tracked the fish to their spot, you’ve landed your limit of Black Crappie (6) and you drag the old stringer out of the bottom of your tackle box and head back to the cabin for a fish fry.

“The guy in that real estate magazine said these are good . . .” Your guests are looking at you like you’re going to serve fried seagull or something.

Never fear, I’ve got your back.

Fillet these fish as you would walleye. For presentation and better cooking, I skip the “pants” method commonly used, and cut the chunkier back straps and thinner belly meat separate. This also removes any bones at all and leaves a nice fish finger to work with.
I like to bathe the fillets in ice cold water for at least 15 minutes before prepping them for cooking.

Black Crappie saved my fishing summer at the cottage. We caught them at noon, at 8 a.m., and at dusk. They were the perfect host for our first summer in Lac du Bonnet.

I’d like to leave you with my favourite crappie recipe that should add some flair to your next weekend cottage

Asian Black Crappie Salad

6 Fillets of Crappie – Cleaned and chilled

4-5 Tbsp Peanut Oil

2 Tsp Smoked Paprika

1 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp White Pepper

¼ Cup Crushed Rice Krispies

1 Bag store bought Asian salad

3 Tbsp Plum Sauce

½ Tbsp Toasted Sesame Seeds


Season fillets liberally with paprika, salt, and pepper. Roll in Rice Krispies and fry in hot oil. Place on salad and drizzle with plum sauce and dust with sesame seeds.

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