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Shellcrackers on the Beds...Sooo Spooky! Need Help!

OK, looks like July 2, 2012 will go down as one of the all-time great panfishing days in history with a slew of high-end specimen of many species hitting the board tonight. Congratulations to all! Here's how my day went, the short version...

I hit a pond at about 3:30 pm that we had caught big red ears from in the past...had caught my previous PR there two springs ago. Saw some big fish bedding 2 weeks prior but could not get them to bite ANYTHING! The bluegill were still on bed, and the frequency of 10- inch fish made the live bait choice of worms/#8 Aberdeen hooks on 2 pound mono an easy choice for success.

Here's the problem...I spotted a pair of bedding red ears that I know were 12 inch, or better, class fish. I stayed back from the waters edge, made gentle casts with the half-nightcrawler presentation and tried to stitch them through the bedding areas, like Fish Chris does in his California lakes. The fish would come in and inspect the worm, turn away, come back again, nose up to the bait, then just hover above it or cruise off. Slight movements of the worm often resulted in the 'crackers bolting off and leaving a cloud of sediment that would disapate in a few minutes. I worked on those two individual fish for 1 hr and 45 minutes without so much as a strike from either one. During that frustrating time, I would occassionally cast out beyond the bedding areas, slightly deeper, and hookup with quality bluegills from 9 to 10.5 inches. I managed 15 of those and a couple of 1.5 lb largemouths. But no redears.


 Each time I caught a fish, I would work it down and away from the rest of the bedding fish and release them several yards away from the area as well. I would bait up wait several minutes, then ease back in position to coax the 'crackers.

This is the area that had the spawners, and they were easy to spot with cheapo-polaroids. I was working a worm near one of the redears when another shellcracker literally came from nowhere and nailed the worm, and I set the hook immediately to a screaming drag on two-pound test! Great fight, and the result was this Personal best of nearly 12 inches long...

Believe it or not this redear was smaller than the two that had eluded me all afternoon, and just got me pumped up to catch the larger fish. But, it didn't happen, but still, a PR is a PR, and always makes for a great day fishing regardless of specie or size.

I have seen spawning red ears in the past just inch up to a worm, quickly inhale it and expel it in an instant out side of their bed. I need help...I think I am going to try whole garden worms or redworms rather than the half-nightcrawler option.

Any suggestions to capitalize on these great fish would surely be appreciated! Thanks!

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Comment by Lee on July 3, 2012 at 3:55pm

 I agree with Greg a nice natural looking small nymph drifted into the bed could be the ticket.

 I have to ask, Are you solar powered? ( Whats that on top your hat? ) :)

Comment by Jacob Hill on July 3, 2012 at 3:34pm

I can second what Greg said! If you're not a fly guy a small white jig at sundown with a full red worm has caught many redear over a pound for me

Comment by Greg McWilliams on July 3, 2012 at 2:59pm

Jim, Go back at sundown with you fly rod!!!!! Full MOON is tonight!!!!! Drop a SMALL NYMPH in close to the nest, LET IT DROP SLOWLY!!!!!!!! I don't think you will be dissapointed!!!! They drop their guard and feed then !!!!!!!!!!!

Comment by dick tabbert on July 3, 2012 at 5:32am

Interesting scenario Jim I hope there is an answer out there some were for you.

Comment by Tony Livingston on July 3, 2012 at 4:49am

I feel your pain... I've always laughingly suggested that Redears must be better parents than Bluegills because they seem more devoted to the nest duties. You can usually entice a Bluegill to pick up your bait, but a RES is another story!

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