John's Journal...

The South's Best Shellcracker Holes

Louisiana – Caney Lake

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: I like to catch plenty of fish that fight hard, test my tackle and my angling skillClick to enlarges and 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.

Caney Lake in northeast Louisiana produced nine of the top-10 shellcrackers caught in the state’s record book. Although there hasn’t been a record-breaking fish out of Caney Lake since 2003, it’s still known for producing big shellcracker. In 1998, the state-record shellcracker caught in Caney Lake weighed 2.87 pounds.

“One of the reasons Caney Lake is one of the top shellcracker and bass lakes is that the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has been involved with the lake since its construction and continues to manage the lake today,” Scott Longmen, fisheries biologist for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, comments. “We’ve done extensive sampling and monitoring oClick to enlargef the fish populations there and proven that good management will produce big shellcrackers and big bass.”

Ryan Daniels, fisheries biologist for Caney Lake, says that, “One of the reasons Caney Lake produClick to enlargeces so many shellcrackers is the lake has huge mussel populations and plenty of shallow-water mussel beds where shellcrackers like to feed and bed. Although we don’t have much vegetation in Caney Lake, shellcrackers make their homes around the mussel beds. During the spring and the summer, you can catch shellcrackers almost anywhere in the lake. But during the winter months, you’ll find shellcrackers in deep water in front of the spillway.”

By using nightcrawlers, you’ll locate fish in the spillway as deep as 30 feet. During the spring, shellcrackers are found on humps in about 3 to 5 feet of water. One-pound shellcrackers are fairly common. You’ll also catch plenty of shellcrackers that weigh 1-1/2-pounds, and occasionally, a fish that weighs 2 pounds or more.

For more information about Caney Lake, visit

Tomorrow: Lake Seminole and World-Record Shellcrackers Caught

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 4