Depth is relative


I think bluegills and shellcrackers roam and hang out near where there food is. But they are not necessarily always interested in eating. I think they both can get a lot deeper than we think. I’ve heard of red ears being caught deeper than 30 feet on Kentucky Lake. They will get deeper than a bluegill, and I’ve caught bluegill deeper than 30 feet in the winter.

Conversely, they will get in water so shallow, I can sight fish for them in the spring. I’ve caught many big red ears because I saw the fish swimming around and chasing fish away in the spring through my polarized Costa sunglasses. They are often barely in a foot of water. Some of the biggest ones I’ve caught have been that shallow. So I think a big part of why we can’t catch them consistently is because they may be in a foot of water one month and 30 feet of water the next month. It’s simply where the water is comfortable and where the food is plentiful. 

Shellcrackers feed on snails and small muscles as well as insects and invertebrates, although I think they definitely show a preference to snails. When I have several shellcrackers in my livewell, there are a bunch of crushed up shell pieces in my drain when I get done at the end of the day. So no matter if I’m in a foot or 30 feet, I will be fishing for them on the bottom and trying my best to identify where nearby shell beds and snails are.