Fly Rod Shellcracker Sets Oconee River Record

GON Staff | June 5, 2022

A evening of fly fishing on the Oconee River near Milledgeville on May 29 paid off with a river record shellcracker for Ben Bell, of Milledgeville.

“My brother John and I fish the Oconee frequently near the tailrace, mostly for a quick, late-afternoon fish,” Ben said. “I have have enjoyed the fly rod for a number of years but have started to use it more exclusively recently. At 10 years younger than me, baby brother consistently out fishes me. This catch will give me a little breathing room from his poundings.”

Ben’s shellcracker (redear sunfish) weighed 1-lb., 13-ozs. on certified scales at Duckworth Farm Supply in Milledgeville. It topped the previous record of 1-lb., 10.4-ozs., a fish caught by MacKay Bloodworth on May 4, 2005.

Ben Bell with his 1-lb., 13-oz. shellcracker that set a new river record for the Oconee River below Lake Sinclair.

“The river was fairly high for our fishing styles, and I was fishing a weighted wet fly near the bottom. The bite had been slow but was worth the wait! Thanks to MacKay Bloodworth, the previous record holder whose family I know well, for setting a high bar, and my wife who is a prayerful and patient woman who only asks I come home safe! And y’all are welcome for the goofy made-for-radio fishy face I’m making in my pictures!”

GON keeps river records for most major reservoirs and rivers in Georgia, including the stretch of the Oconee River below Sinclair dam down to where it meets the Ocmulgee to form the Altamaha River.


Oconee River Record Fish – Below Lake Sinclair

Largemouth Bass 10-lbs., 3.2-ozs. Tracey Jackson 03/26/17
Channel Catfish 32-lbs., 6-ozs. Rick Leitheiser 04/07/96
Flathead Catfish 62-lbs. Brian Estes 06/13/99
Striped Bass 63-lbs.* Kelly Ward 05/30/67
Black Crappie 1-lb., 9-ozs. Duke Campbell Jr. 04/01/06
Bluegill 1-lb., 8-ozs. Duke Campbell Jr. 03/31/15
Shellcracker 1-lb., 13-ozs. Ben Bell 05/29/22
Blue Catfish 43-lbs., 2-ozs. Brandon Watts 07/09/22
Bowfin 5-lbs., 2.4-ozs. Shannon Campbell 03/13/21

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