John's Journal...

The South's Best Shellcracker Holes

Shellcrackers at Santee Cooper

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: I like to catch plenty of fish that fight hard, test my tackle and my angling skills anClick to enlarged taste delicious when I eat them. These characteristics describe the shellcracker (redear sunfish) with its nicknames of stumpknocker and yellow bream. The South homes some of the biggest shellcrackers, so named due to the grinding teeth in their throats that crush snails, shells and mollusks, in the nation.

Santee Cooper Lake in South Carolina probably has a bluegill population just as good, if not better, as any other southern state. It has good shellcracker-fishing in the spring and the summer. But it’s during the winter months that South Carolinians catch monster-sized shellcrackers.

According to Scott Lamprecht, regional freshwater fisheries coordinator for Region 4 of South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources, “Santee Cooper has some invasive male Click to enlargespecies and constrictive waters. We’ve had hydrolith and weed problems, which produce plenty of algae and food for shellcrackers.” In 1998, Santee Cooper had a world’s record shellcracker that weighed 5 pounds, 7 ounces caught in the Diversion Canal.

“We catch 4-pound shellcrackers every fall, and 2- to 3-pound shellcrackers are fairly common,” Lamprecht Click to enlargereports. The Diversion Canal, which connects Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie, seems to concentrate shellcrackers in the fall months. During the fall and winter, shellcrackers are caught in 15 to 20 feet of water. Anglers fish on the end of the current, right along the bottom. The fall run of shellcrackers usually starts the first week of November and continues through mid-December. Then shellcracker-fishing gets good again around Easter and runs through the summer months.”

For more information, you can call Black’s Fish Camp at (843) 753-2231.

To learn more about South Carolina’s Santee Cooper Lake, go to

Tomorrow: Lake Tarpon and Lake Guntersville Shellcrackers

Check back each day this week for more about "The South's Best Shellcracker Holes"

Day 1: Shellcrackers at Santee Cooper
Day 2: Lake Tarpon and Lake Guntersville Shellcrackers
Day 3: Mississippi – Tippah County Lake
Day 4: Louisiana – Caney Lake
Day 5: Georgia – Lake Seminole and World-Record Shellcrackers Caught



Entry 401, Day 1