Use these tips to catch more shellcrackers:
• Shellcrackers are colony breeders. If you chance upon one fish, circle back and fish that area thoroughly, because the likelihood of there being more fish is great.
• A shellcracker’s consists mostly of mollusks, worms, insect larvae and shrimp. Insects such as crickets and grasshoppers are not typical fare for shellcrackers.
• Because of their diet, shellcrackers tend to feed more on the bottom rather than feeding up or on the surface like bluegills, making tight-lining a good method.
• Shellcrackers tend to spawn earlier and deeper than bluegills and are often found using the same historical sand or clay bottoms as bluegill. You can test an old bream bed for shellcrackers by probing the deeper, outer edges with a worm starting in March.
• Small crappie jigs on a No. 2 or No. 4 hook rigged with plastic creature baits — crawfish, nymphs or hellgrammites — make excellent artificial baits for shellcrackers.
• One of the best baits for trophy-sized shellcrackers is a thumbnail-sized freshwater clam or mussel. These can be dug from the bottom with a rake (where legal) and crushed, then have a hook inserted through the shell and fished on the bottom.