Shellcracker Fishing Detailed Guide


The shellcracker is a type of fish found throughout the United States and one which belongs to the sunfish family. Other species in this family include bluegills, redbreast, warmouth as well as the spotted sunfish. They are also known as bream. Shellcracker fishing requires a bit more finesse as we are going to learn.

It is not uncommon to see the different species intermingle. They are delicious to eat and any angler will have great fun reeling them in from the water.

A characteristic of all sunfish is that they like to hang around in shallow water. This makes it easy to cast the bait and wait for them to get it. The shellcracker however, is different. While you may end up catching other types of sunfish, getting a shellcracker is always great fun. Fishing pliers will allow you to remove the hooks of the fish you didn’t intend to catch.

In this shellcracker fishing detailed guide, we are going to explore how to catch shellcracker fish. Just make sure you are wearing the best fishing shoes.

How to identify shellcracker

What makes the shellcracker such a favorite of many anglers is because it is the largest of the bream fish. While most sunfish are small, and relatively speaking this goes for the shellcracker as well, it is not uncommon to regularly pull out fish that is 2 pounds or more.

As far as bream go, it is the bluegill that takes the title for being the most beautiful member of their tribe. However, the shell cracker is still a very nice-looking fish with the back having olive to green hues and the sides are silvery with dots of brown or green. Adult fish will feature a yellow color along their bellies.

To catch them you will need to use a quality fly fishing reel.

They are also referred to as redear due to the scarlet hues that are around the gill flaps. The males of this species have a much brighter color than the females. The young and the females are paler.

Are you also wondering why they are also called shellcrackers? This is because of the hard grinders that look like teeth in their throats. This makes it possible for them to eat small mollusks cracking their shells and feeding on their insides.

In fact, the mollusks are their main source of diet.

If you plan on catching shellcrackers in rainy weather, you will need rain gear for fishing.

These fish are native to the southeastern part of the US. However, they have been introduced to rivers and lakes all over the United States including California, Nevada, Virginia, Wyoming, and New Mexico.

You will mostly find shellcrackers congregating around stumps, roots, logs as well as around aquatic vegetation such as water lilies, elodea, and coontail. They like to swim in deep water which is unlike the majority of the other types of sunfish and will usually be found between 25 feet and 35 feet.

And while they love munching on insect larvae, worms, small snails, and fingernail clams, they also will easily go for insects and other small creatures that they can find.

How to catch shellcracker fish


What you should note on how to catch shellcracker is that it is not as simple as with other types of sunfish. Most of the other species are abundant and will reside in shallower waters. This is not the case with the shellcrackers. They are harder to find and will need a bit more attention on the part of the angler.

This is part of why catching a shellcracker is so much fun and once you have it in your hand, you will get a feeling of accomplishment.

There are two main points to always keep in mind when trying to catch a shellcracker sunfish. Remember to always use quality fishing lines.

Number one is that shellcrackers reside in the bottom and are bottom feeders. That means casting the bait and letting it go down to the bottom. If you don’t do this, then you are probably missing the majority of the fish. And forget about the tactics that you use on the bluegills as these will rarely ever work on shellcrackers. To consistently reel in shellcrackers you need to do bottom shellcracker fishing.

The second thing that you should know is that the shell crackers are always very finicky. The best chance of catching them is to use live bait as artificial ones tend not to attract much attention.  And it doesn’t end there. Even while you want to use live bait, you must determine the best live bait and how you are going to drop it to the bottom.

Simply put these types of fish are among the fussiest eaters you will ever come across. This is how to catch shellcracker. Once you get one, your fish fillet knife will help you prepare the meat for the pan.

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The delight of going after shellcrackers is they are far more challenging to reel in than other types of sunfish. You will need to understand their behavior and always use live bait.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!