Bream and shellcrackers are heading to their spawning beds on the Santee Cooper lakes, and they're at their most vulnerable as they protect their territory.

According to guide Steve English, it's a great time to go get the makings of a great fish fry.

"You can find them most anytime, but the best times seem to be either on full or new moon," said English (843-729-4044).

With a full moon scheduled for Aug. 2, fish are most likely in the same areas. English suggests dropping live crickets or worms around bedding areas.

"This time of year, you're going to see more shellcracker than bluegill," he said. "On (Lake Marion), the water is dingier, but you can fish along the lily pads in 3 to 5 feet of water where you can't see the bottom until you catch one. Once you catch one, there's definitely more there. And of course, if you can see them on the bed, that's pretty self-explanatory."

English suggests using a long-shank hook when fishing for shellcracker and bream, so you have something to hang on to when you're taking the fish off the hook. He personally uses a No. 4 but will use a sturdier model if he's catching bigger shellcracker because a smaller hook will straighten with bigger fish, especially if you're pulling them out of thick cover. For gear, English recommends a 5 ½- to 7-foot rod if casting, but if you're straight-lining, a Bream Buster works great.

"If it's really thick cover, I'll use 15- to 17-pound test so I can pull them out easier, especially with the bigger shellcracker," he said. "That's also when you use the bigger hook so it doesn't pull straight."

Location always matters, and English said he has the best luck around the hatchery on Lake Moultrie and around Spires Landing and Rocks Pond on Lake Marion. Regardless of where you catch them, however, you're sure to have a good meal come suppertime.