Out at Arizona’s Lake Havasu, researchers are investigating whether redear sunfish --- also known as “shellcrackers” --- can be used to control quagga mussel infestations.
Sounds like a good idea to me. First, shellcrackers feed primarily on snails and other small, shelled creatures. They have hard, movable plates in their throats that allow them to crush the shells.
Second, the redears grow really big in Lake Havasu, as evidenced by the 5.55-pound world record taken there in 2011. The bigger the fish, the more mussels it can eat.
Here’s what Arizona Game and Fish says about the fishery:
“Redear sunfish in the 2-pound range and larger are regularly caught. Bluegill and redear can be caught around structure such as docks, vegetation, or artificial structure using mealworms, night crawlers, or small crappie jigs.”
To find out about the research, go here.