Lanier Shellcracker Record Broken After Nearly 20 Years

This record fish bit a "dew worm" in 30 feet of water.

Brad Gill | December 22, 2021

When you think about fishing on Lake Lanier in December, visions of big striped bass on the end of your line likely come to mind—at least before a shellcracker flopping in the boat would.

Michael Madryga, of Cumming, and his son Blair, 25, were fishing Lake Lanier Dec. 12 when they put a new lake-record shellcracker in the boat.

Michael Madryga and his son Blair with the new Lake Lanier shellcracker record.

“My dad and I fish Lanier regularly and usually target spotted bass,” said Blair, who is the Environmental Supplier Compliance Specialist for Yamaha Motor Company. “Being from up North, he likes to use some interesting rigs and fish in odd places. We were in 30 feet of water on the south end.”
Michael said there was a bass tournament on Lanier when he and Blair were enjoying a father-and-son day, so they escaped to quieter parts of the lake, which led them to an area east of Tidwell. They were specifically looking for spotted bass in 20 to 40 feet of water.
“I said let’s try a dew worm because we had just come back from Beaver Lake in Arkansas, and I had leftover dew worms to fish for walleye there,” said Michael.
The term “dew worm” likely isn’t very familiar to many Georgia anglers, but it’s another word for a nightcrawler.
“When I was a kid we always called them dew worms,” said Michael. “I am from up North, and we wouldn’t go out to get worms at night with a flashlight until there was dew on the grass.”
Michael had bought a bunch of the big worms for his trip to Beaver Lake and still had some left in the boat.
“We were using drop-shot rigs, and the fish weren’t biting very well that particular day,” said Michael. “I said, ‘I hadn’t tried this in a while, so let’s try this.'”
While Blair continued to work his plastic deep on a drop-shot rig, Michael loaded up a gob of nightcrawler on his drop shot and sent it down to the bottom.
“It hit really hard. At first I thought I had a 1- to 1 1/2-lb. spotted bass on,” said Michael. “I had 10-lb. Ande Tournament line on a spinning reel, and it took my drag out. I was really surprised by the fight.”
With a big shellcracker in the boat, the immediate order of business was to get it officially weighed.
“Being Sunday, I had to call around to find a certified scale. Luckily, the team at Hammonds was able to help us out and get a weight on it,” said Blair.

Chase Mason with Hammonds Fishing verified the weight on the 13-inch fish using the store’s certified scale. It weighed 1.59 pounds (1-lb., 9.44-ozs.) and beat a nearly 20-year-old record, a 1-lb., 5-oz. fish caught on June 13, 2002 by Russ Toole.

“Lanier is an incredible fishery, and I’m sure there are bigger ones out there. This unexpected catch made for a memorable day on the water,” said Blair.


Largemouth Bass17-lbs., 9-ozs.Emory Dunahoo12/19/65
Spotted Bass8-lbs., 0.5-ozs.Patrick Bankston05/20/85
Striped Bass47-lbs., 12-ozs.Ward Schanhals04/03/10
Hybrid Bass12-lbs.Fred Duncan12/22/92
White Bass5-lbs., 1-oz.*J.M. Hobbins06/16/71
Shoal Bass5-lbs., 5-ozs.Peter T. Thliveros12/01/94
White Crappie3-lbs., 2-ozs.Bill Fretwell04/17/91
Black Crappie3-lbs., 5-ozs.Chris Williams10/06/06
Walleye8-lbs., 9-ozs.Buddy Wade 01/20/13
Bluegill1-lb., 2-ozs.Mrs. Pat Johnson06/03/79
Yellow Perch1-lb., 8-ozs.Jeff Howard02/02/90
Shellcracker1-lb., 9.44-ozs.Michael Madryga12/12/21
Rainbow Trout9-lbs., 6-ozs.Brooke Wheeler03/02/19
Brown Trout6-lbs.Tim Wyatt04/24/04
Flathead Catfish
51-lbs., 10-ozs.
Rodney Stephens
Channel Catfish22-lbs., 8-ozs.Robert Hancock09/28/11
Longnose Gar30-lbs., 13-ozs.Gerald Kennedy09/04/13
Common Carp19-lbs., 9.6-ozs.Charlie White03/17/24
Blue Catfish15-lbs., 8.8-ozs.Matthew Haynes04/09/23

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