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What size Crappies should you keep?


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I usually fish for northerns if I am going to keep fish for eating but once a year I try to get a limit of crappies to have a fish fry for my parents who don't get out and fish any more.

Can anyone weigh in on what they think are the right size crappies to keep? I am mostly wondering what is best for the fishery as a whole.

Yesterday I fished a lake that has an abundance of 8 inch fish. I caught 30 fish and was lucky to come up with nine 10 inch fish that I kept. A buddy says that he won't keep anything under 12". If I lived by that rule my folk would never get their fish fry. Maybe I need to find a better lake.

The DNR wants you to keep the pike under 24" and release those bigger on most lakes and say that is better for the fishery. Has anyone seen a recommendation for crappie?

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I don't have any science to back this up but personally I think 10 inchers are about perfect. Anything under 9 is hard to get much meat from, and anything over 11 I figure should be spawning a couple more years to hopefully have a strong pool of offspring.

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The best sizes are 10 to 11 inchers. This helps the smaller one's to move up to the 10-11 class. Plus, it is enough meat for a meal. When we keep crappies for a meal, 8 is about all we need.

Sniffer

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I agree with Sniffer with the 10-11 inch size. I think that 12 inch plus crappies don't taste as good as the smaller ones.

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I agree with what the other guys said about the 10-11in fish being best for keeping.

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Can anyone weigh in on what they think are the right size crappies to keep? I am mostly wondering what is best for the fishery as a whole.

Yesterday I fished a lake that has an abundance of 8 inch fish. I caught 30 fish and was lucky to come up with nine 10 inch fish that I kept.

I go with the principles of Selective Harvest which suggests keeping the most abundant sized fish of a species, and letting the bigger ones back. 8 inches is pretty small, IMO to get any meat. But, in that case I'd try to keep the 9 inchers and hopefully put the 10's back.

CrappieSniffers words fit alot of lakes and would be a good general rule. But, it wouldn't fit in your example. I've also witnessed fisheries that were loaded with 12+" crappies, and there weren't that many 10's (at least we weren't catching them). I had no problem keeping a few 12 inchers, and "upping" the throwback range to 13"s.

Not a common "problem" because we've been conditioned to keep "only 12"s and above", like your friend. By letting the largest, less abundant fish back, we give the lake potential to produce larger / hopefully trophy fish....take all of the biggest......eventually you wind up with a lake like you explained.

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In an ideal world I would keep 9 - 11 inch crappies. However if push comes to shove I would have no problem keeping some smaller ones to round out a fish fry. In fact if you fish in the Metro area a person pretty much has to if they want a meal.

Let the smile on your parents face as they enjoy the fish erase and 'guilt' you have about keeping 'too small' of fish.

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Any crappie over 11 inches just don't taste as good! Seems to taste muddy to me, and overall taste the 10-11" crappies were "More Gooder'! grin

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  • 2 weeks later...

My personal keeping slot is 9-12". All else tossed back.

This is what I do as well, however I very rarely keep any, and almost never a full limit.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As goose89 stated, selective harvest is the way to go. Many of the lakes I fish have abundant panfish populations but not many large fish. During the spawn, I've seen friends and strangers demolish populations of large breeders. I agree that there isn't much meat on an eight inch crappie, but they are typically far easier to catch and more abundant. Plus, cleaning small fish makes a person appreciate how well they can clean a fish.

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