Bluegill - Big Bluegill

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Throughout late summer and early fall, the larger shellcrackers move into several ox-bows off the upper Savannah River to feed and spawn. Through trial and error, I have figured out that one must take on a mentality similar to that of a trophy bass fisherman in order to catch these fish. Like a big bass, and a mature buck for that matter, these fish do not get big by being stupid, so outsmarting them is the key. One particular ox-bow lake that my father and I frequent is riddled with flooded timber, and the deeper water around these moss filled stumps holds these monster shellcrackers. My father, who has fished this portion of the river his whole life, had yet to land a shellcracker over the 3 lb. mark. As we approached a set of stumps we always fish, I told him, "you need to put your bait on those stumps before we get too close." His cork hadn't settled down from the cast when it almost instantly submerged. When he set the hook, it was like someone released a pitbull from his cage, the water errupted and the fight was on. If anyone is familiar with the fight a striped bass puts up, double this and add the suspense of using light action tackle and 6 or 8 lb. test line. After intense runs of 20 feet or more at a blinding speed, the massive bream made his way to the boat.

To date, this is his personal best weighing in at 3.2 lbs. Since then we have boated several more weighing within ounces of this one.

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Comment by Troy Dorman on June 18, 2009 at 8:21am
I just can't get over the size of these crackers, I don't know how many times in the past month I've just gazed at these photos in disbelief. The big four pounders don't even resemble a cracker that I'm familiar with, they seem to really lose their bronze color and turn very dark.

The three pounders in your photos are just gorgeous, still maintaining that unique redear identity. My goal is to mount a two pounder as soon as I catch it, you've got some lifetime fish there!
Comment by Dean on February 9, 2009 at 6:36pm
Thanks kelly! i'll find it.
Comment by Kelly Nobles on February 7, 2009 at 6:46pm
hey Dean, theres a discussion about this tactic.....i just improvised some, with some other secret details, and it works on these big fish, I'm sure you can get the gist of which discussion I am referring to.....Ray, these big ones have very little coloration, just kinda olive drab colored or silver / black, the red ear really doesnt stand out on these like the smaller ones.....
Comment by Ray Danders on February 7, 2009 at 2:50pm
Very nice fish actually an outstanding fish. Up in Michigan we call them red eared sunfish, although from the picture it looks darker than the ones we catch up here.
Comment by Dean on February 7, 2009 at 12:51pm
That's fair. Thanks for the picture, story and the nibble on how to. :-)
Comment by Kelly Nobles on February 7, 2009 at 9:35am
now if I tell that, my secret is gone, I can tell you its not the normal method known for catching shellcrackers.....more of a bass fishing oriented tactic.....
Comment by Dean on February 6, 2009 at 8:52pm
Wow! What a fish. What kind of bait/hook/method did you use?
Comment by shooter on February 6, 2009 at 8:31pm
Kelley that is some nice chinks.
Comment by Kelly Nobles on January 22, 2009 at 6:46pm
just wait, spring is right around the corner....!!!!
Comment by Bruce Condello on January 22, 2009 at 4:08pm
Incredible fish and story!

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