Tips for Sunfish: Use this Rig to Takedown Shellcrackers

sunfish

It was a rare opportunity that I couldn’t waste. I spend a lot of my lunch breaks fishing a small storm drain adjacent to a wooden dock behind my house, but the usual bass and bluegill targets took a backseat to the unexpected appearance of bedding shellcracker.

Redear sunfish to biologists, or “chinquapin” to Louisiana anglers, these feisty fish typically favor deeper haunts, but when a dozen plump females moved into a sunny spot with clear water, I thought it would be a lights-out deal.

Well, I did manage to irritate a few with live wigglers, bread balls and small popper flies, but the fish were spooky in the clear conditions, so I had to put on the thinking cap.

The solution? Take a page from the bass angler’s bed-fishing playbook and modify it for this much smaller opponent.

fish

The plan started with Berkley Powebait Power Wigglers—scented maggot imitators packaged in segmented strands, similar to sausage links. Normally, I’d pinch off a link or two and fish them loosely on small hooks.

In this scenario, I needed to present an imposing, intrusive profile that would surely push a nesting ‘cracker over the edge. Inspiration struck when I pinched off a 4-link section of Power Wigglers and pondered the alternative to wadding them all onto a hook point.

Here’s what I settled on. I Texas rigged the string of Power Wigglers on a long-shank bream hook and crimped a split shot right above the hook knot. The weight was just enough to hold the rig head down for a presentation similar to a shaky head.

Streamlined and subtle, I could easily cast or pitch the rig right into a shellcracker bed and lightly wiggle it on the 6-pound line. With that tall, waving intruder standing defiantly in a nest, it didn’t take long for a mama shellcracker to reach the end of her patience.