Skip to main content

What's Behind Monster Shellcrackers at Lake Havasu?

What's Behind Monster Shellcrackers at Lake Havasu?

The home of the world record redear sunfish may be ‘quagga’ crazy. (Photo courtesy Arizona Game & Fish Department)

Lake Havasu has a well-deserved reputation for its stellar bass and striper fishing.

But did you know the large Colorado River reservoir bordering Arizona and California is also home to some of the best redear sunfish (aka shellcracker) angling in the world?

It was five years ago — Feb. 16, 2014 — when angler Hector Brito set the existing world record with a 17-inch, 5.78-pound shellcracker caught in Havasu on a nightcrawler. By that time, Havasu anglers had already seen a sharp increase in shellcracker size, but the question was why.

In an article entitled Mystery of World Record Solved? Nick Walter of the Arizona Game and Fish Department wrote that invasive quagga mussels could be behind the bigger fish.


“World
Hector Brito caught this world-record redear sunfish at Lake Havasu in 2014. (Photo courtesy Arizona Game & Fish Department)

The redear sunfish is called shellcracker due to teeth in its throat that allows it to crush and eat crustaceans, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the sole reason for the bigger fish. But Arizona Game & Fish also notes reports of bigger shellcrackers began a couple of years after the quagga mussel was discovered in Havasu.


Also, a 2014 study by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation found redears and bluegills do indeed eat quaggas, also resulting in a decrease in the mussel population.

Click here to read all of Arizona Game & Fish’s fascinating report

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Game & Fish Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now