Like bass, you can predict where shellcrackers or bluegills are going to spawn. I’ve spent a lot of time with my electronics, not only scanning and looking for bedding areas, but I’ve also sat and watched them real time on my screen with Garmin Livescope.
I see how they move in and out, how they circle on a bed. I see what the area around them is like and where in location on a map these areas become similar as you move up and down the lake. I see how inactive their feeding is when they are making nests or in the act of spawning. They are feeding heavily just before and after they spawn. But I’ve watched them on the screen and been unable to catch them when they are circling rapidly on a bed clearing it out.
You start to recognize what sort of banks you need look for with your naked eye, what sort of depths, what side of the creek to look, when to look, where to look, etc. The more you find, the more you piece together a puzzle that becomes patternable from year to year.
Now we knew where to look, when to look and what to look for when Robey and I entered the Bluegill Blowout, however, the fish weren’t in the normal places yet because we had such a delayed start to the spring. Bass were still spawning in the end of May, and so were the crappie. I had been catching both easily with regularity shallow around bedding areas the week prior. So I knew the bluegill and shellcrackers were a little behind.
Robey and I looked in a bunch of familiar areas with little to show for the efforts. So we started working our way back out the day of the tournament. We knew we could find a few bluegill here and there, and we should work back from where they were going to spawn to where they would be coming from. That means you start in the backs of creeks in the pockets and you work out, up the banks along ditches and creeks in the larger arms and bays. We tried a couple areas that morning without much luck and decided to hunt our way back out.
Turns out, our third stop down a deeper bank leading to a spawning area, I quickly found a small bluegill bed. That gave us a bunch of bluegills to get us started. Then we stumbled onto that nice school of red ears staging and feeding. I learned a lot more about shellcrackers that day than just where they like to feed.