Shellcracker And Bream Fishing

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Robert Webster of Hamlet, NC who has a camper at the Lake Tillery Family Campground, adjacent Highway 24/27, has been keeping a watch on the fishing conditions for Shellcrackers and Bream.  We both wanted to go after them with our fly rods aka buggy whoppers as Acey Wall, deceased use to call my fly rod.  It thrilled Acey Wall back in the early 1960s to see a Bream tear the water up after gulping down a top water popping bug and "zig zaging" through the water trying to get away from what had hold of him.

Robert called a week or two back and we had Tuesday, May 16, 2017 reserved to do some fly fishing for the Shellcracker and Bream.  We had some heavy rain a week ago and the water was a little dingy, but planned to give it our best.

I told Robert I would be at the campground at around 0700 hours; 7:00 A.M. to you non-military folks, however I was up early around 0330 and couldn't get back to sleep.  My bride was up early also and I fixed a coffee for her and myself and we both had a light cereal for such an early morning breakfast.  I already had my gear loaded and decided to go ahead and make the early drive to Lake Tillery and give Robert a call once I got there.  That way, he could get a little more sleep in.

I arrived at Robert's campsite and gave him a call at 0456 hours and left a message on his answering service.  He called back shortly, thinking that something was wrong and I would not be able to make it for our fishing.  I told him, No, everything was ok and I was parked out front and he thought I was kidding him since he didn't see my vehicle out front, of which I had parked out of his immediate view from the front of his camper.  It took him a few minutes to get dressed and/or orientated, being interrupted from an apparent hard fast deep sleep and still somewhat discombobulated.....grin if you must.

I was sitting on the camper front porch kicked back sipping on some hot black coffee that I had in a thermos when Robert came out and we both had a very good grin on; myself being there so early and I explained to him why I was so early again.

Robert put a pot of coffee on, fried some sausage and eggs and we had a sausage and egg sandwich with some Duke's mayonnaise which got both of us jump started for the early morning.  We sat around and chatted until after day break, watched some news and then headed to the Swift Island boat landing which is about 1/4 mile from his camper. 


I hope I don't have any physical or mental repercussions from watching the Channel 9 WSOC TV newscast, which many decades ago, I nicknamed (Tabloid 9) there in The Queen City, Charlotte, NC, whereas they tend to invent and create news, rather than simply report the news in my humble opinion, whereas they do much to fester and create racial tensions.  I have boycotted watching any type of newscast and on my second year of not watching a newscast from the home TV.  I did watch the 2016 Presidential Election results during the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 and then back to my newscast boycott!  I know, I am not up to date on current events, but I got totally disgusted with all the negative news.  Of late, I rarely turn my TV on and if I do, it is to check the weather channel.  However, my bride watches what she desires on her own TV.  I get plenty of quality time in reading God's Holy Word aka the Bible, which is a very good thing, versus sitting in front of a TV wasting time.  It seems like Charlotte, NC is heading toward becoming another Biblical Sodom and Gomorrah, where morality is concerned!  The Hollywood, California political correctness crowd comprised of many Liberals, are leading the bandwagon for those same issues of promoting sinful lifestyles; e.g., portraying and promoting homosexuality and same sex marriages as a normal lifestyle of which God's judgment will ultimately come to pass on those individuals and our Nation as a whole for allowing it to happen through corrupt, immoral legislation attempting to circumvent God's Holy Word.  Read my quote of the decade page!  I would not trust a politician and their die hard supporters in an outhouse with a muzzle on!


Robert had his boat trailer hitched and ready to roll from the night before.  I checked the time stamp on the picture above and it was 0647.

When we arrived at the Swift Island boat landing and there were at least five (5) boats already on the lake and a couple more vehicles in the parking lot without trailers attached to them.

I got a pix of Robert as we were heading to some of his earlier known "hot spots", but his fishing buddy Bob McLean was already ahead of his.


It didn't take too long before we were getting a few keepers and I believe I landed the first fish.  Robert put the hammer down after that and was nailing them fairly regular, however the wind was blowing a good bit for using a fly rod.

Pix of a Bream aka Bluegill Robert is about to land.

Robert with another large one, whereas he defected and went with the ultra-light spincast.

Before I get underway posting some pixs, I want to elaborate on the difference between a Shellcracker and a Bream.



The obvious difference between the Shellcracker and the Bream is their size.  People here in the South, have all kinds of generic names for the Bream, e.g., Sunfish, Bluegill, Perch, Pan fish, cherry gill, stump knocker, rouge ear, Georgia Bream, etc.  The Shellcracker has a cherry-red edge to the operculum which is a series of bones found in bony fish that serves as a facial support structure and a protective covering for the Gills; it is also used for respiration and feeding.  Here is a close-up of the operculum or ear as us Country Boys call it:

The Shellcracker averages about one pound and they do get much larger, with the NC state record being 4 pounds 15 oz. taken from a private pond in Edgecombe County, not to mention some wonderful table fare.  The Bream aka Bluegill has a much more varied color pattern than the Shellcracker.  The Shellcrackers in Lake Tillery tend to be colored more like the Crappie versus the Bream aka Bluegill.  Shellcrackers consume snails, small clams and mollusks and are able to crush them before swallowing them.  Both fish are some fantastic eating. 

Above pix of some small clams/mollusks from one of the Shellcrackers stomach/intestines.  The clams/mollusks were crushed into smaller pieces with tooth-like grinders in their throats, hence, the name shellcrackers.


Robert and myself fished at several of his normal "hot spots" but the water was a little on the muddy side for fishing top water lures.  Robert put on a dropper sinking trailing lure in a black pattern and it wasn't long before he was catching Shellcrackers and Bream on the trailing hook.   It didn't take me too long, before I followed Roberts lead and did the same thing with similar results.  I didn't get to fish too long with the trailing dropper fly because a large catfish nailed it and it was a tug of war and the catfish won.  He broke off my popping bug and the trailer dropper fly,  I had to put another popping bug and dropper fly on the leader.  The leader was probably about seven pounds test strength due to the smaller tippet section broken off and hadn't replaced it of late.

Yours truly with a smaller Shellcracker destined to the cooler.

We moved to several other known prior hot spots and picked up a few more Shellcrackers and Bream.

Bob McLean was ahead of us in those normal hot spots and he was picking the Shellcrackers off pretty regular using light spinning tackle and a black sinking jig.

Before Bob moved to another hot spot, he transferred a Catfish and the Shellcrackers he had caught so far into Robert's cooler.

Bob transferred the balance of the Shellcrackers and Bream he caught before he left the lake.  Pixs below are out of sequence, but that is ok too.

Those are some nice size Shellcrackers that Bob McLean caught!


Robert moved to several more locations and we picked up a few fish and we observed Bob in one of the hot spots just mentioned above and he was staying there a long time.  This indicated he was definitely into some fish!   I observed Bob raising his cooler lid and he definitely was putting fish in his cooler.  He asked me,  did I see him with a pair of binoculars and I told him No, it was my State Eye Plan glasses.

When we made our round getting closer to him, he was snagging them pretty regular.  He had a lunch appointment with his Sister and transferred the balance of the fish he caught to Robert's cooler as I already mentioned above.  I told Bob that he was sand bagging e.g., holding out on us and I was going to name him Sand Bag Bob in my short story.  I told Bob later, "A man's doesn't give up his hold card" and he grinned on that for use.

Above is pix of the "hot spot" that Bob was nailing the fish pretty regular.  He said they would bite real good and then a Gar fish would come through and they would stop biting.  He said a Turtle would come in there and the same thing happened again.  Once the Gar and Turtle left the immediate area, the fish started hitting his lure regular again. 


Robert wimped out and brought out his light spin cast rig with a black jig and started nailing those large Shellcrackers and Bream in no time.  The fish were on the bottom and not messing with top water lures due to the muddy water conditions.  He said he was "meat fishing", whereas I was "sport fishing"....grin if you must!  Robert dug through his fishing gear and found a small 1/64 oz. black jig and I put it on my fly rod leader and started catching those big boys too.  The lead head jig cast horrible on the fly line and it would fold back hitting the fly rod.  I had to give the rod much speed to get the jig to roll over properly.  A stiffer and shorter leader would have helped.

We fished until after 12 noon and I told Robert the cooler was about maxed out and we would soon have to start putting the fish on the floor aka deck.  Robert aka Chief Shad King, was very reluctant to leave while the fish were still biting, but finally gave in.  I was ready for a fish fry.....grin if you must! 

That is one beautiful cooler full of mostly large Shellcrackers and Bream with one catfish in there.


The sky was definitely Carolina Blue and a wonderful day to be on the lake with friends.


It is customary for Robert to fry up some fish when we get back to his camper and today was no exception.  Click on the thumbnails for a larger screen view:

Robert is about ready to do some serious "chowing down" with those wonderful White Perch filets, baked sweet potato with Land-O-Lakes butter, Stoney Gap slaw, pickle slices and cold sweet tea.

Martha Stewart would be proud to sample some of this plated food!


Bob McLean came by for a short visit after he had lunch with his Sister.  Pix of Bob posing with the left over White Perch filets which ended up coming home with yours truly for my bride and myself for later.

We had a good time "riding" Bob about sand bagging on keeping mum about the fish he was catching in one of those hot spots mentioned......grin if you must again, because we certainly are.


I picked out thirteen (13) Shellcrackers and two (2) Bream from Robert's cooler to bring back home to scale, dress and freeze for later consumption.  Click on thumbnails for a larger screen view:

I talked with Robert around 7:08 P.M. and he cleaned a total of 93 fish which included the one catfish and with my 15, a grand total of 108 fish were caught between the three of us.

We had a great time on the lake and Robert and myself enjoyed a wonderful fish fry prepared by him.  Friendship and Fellowship really makes Life worthwhile. 

God richly bless each and every one of you. 

Micah 6:8  "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

Web published by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 05-16-17.


If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please take this moment to accept him by Faith into your Life, whereby Salvation will be attained.   

Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Open this link of Bible Verses About Salvation, King James Version Bible (KJV).

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”


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