Spring Has Sprung The Time Has Come!
One of the best times of the year for fishermen is the Spring Time. That is when the fish are the most active! One of my favorite fish to catch at this time of the year is the Shellcrackers.
Largest of the Centrachidae family, they fight aggressively as you bring them to shore. (I personally think they outfight the bass in the lake where I fish!)
One of the most important things to know when targeting this species is to put your worm on the bottom of the lake where you are more likely to find them. I like to use a sliding sinker with a small split shot beneath so when the fish take the bait you can feel the tug and set the hook before they completely swallow the bait. Since they often take the bait deep before you have a chance to set the hook, it’s good to have a pair of long-nosed de-hooker pliers handy to remove the hooks.
Of all the sunfish varieties, I think these are the best tasting as well as the largest. Catch a few and you will have more than enough meat for a meal. One of my favorite ways to eat them is in fish tacos.
The meat is flaky and sweet!
Since these fish specialize in feeding on Mollusks they rarely compete with the other sunfish species that feed at the surface. In addition, they help control the rapid growth of many native species of water snails and especially are helpful in keeping many invasive species in check (like the infamous quagga mussels). Since they are equipped to crack and crush the hard shells of these creatures they are often introduced into waters infested with these alien species. They have been found to be very successful in this venture as well as providing an excellent sport fishing species.
If the water is clear you may see them sitting on their nests near the shore in the Spring Time. This is where they congregate in the Spring.
Daddy Does His Job!
The male builds the nest, and if he does a good job, the female will come and lay her eggs there. Understand that they will be very active at this time.
Don’t Forget The Future!
When I catch them in the Spring I often carefully remove the hooks of the large females with swollen bellies full of eggs. In this way I help insure a healthy population next Spring. This is a good practice with other species as well, but it’s all right to keep some for dinner! They reproduce well and taking a few won’t cause a problem.
Call Them What You May:
“Shellcrackers, Red-Earred Sunfish, Chinquapins, Mollusks Eaters, Georgia Bream, Cherry Gills”, are some of the names given to these fish. No matter what you call them they will make your fishing trip a success. Why not get out there and catch some?
Bright Yellow Breast.
This Fish Is Full of Eggs. She Went Back In The Lake.
When Wiggling In The Light They Are Like Peacock Feathers.
They show off their many colors.
When God Created These Fish He Used A Colorful Pallet! The colors change as they move in the light.