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I havent come across any giants in my travels to the bigger lakes in NC. Most I have caught or seen are hand size at best. Perhaps smaller bodies of water are better as there are few large predator fish giving them more time to grow.
 

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The ponds below spillways can hold monsters of all the panfIsh species. They just sit outside the current and get fat on food washed over the dam. That's where I would try. Now the cooler of the biggest panfish I've ever seen came from the ronoake below the dam. Stopped by the ramp on the way from Virginia and an old man had filled a cooler of 1-3lb shellcrackers and bluegil. Dozens of them. Never seen anything like it.
 

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When you get to that size panfish an inch or two is a massive jump at times. 11"/1lb citation isn't impossible.

I somewhat see what you're talking about regarding private waters but cheating, it isn't. Although, lots of private water fisherman would set their bar a lot higher than the citation size. In reality they're making their own "citation" sizes.


Sent from my kayak...
 

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The NC State record largemouth was caught in a 'private pond'. The records don't care where you catch your citation. If your own goals do, that's a personal matter I certainly respect and admire.
 
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Most people fish for them in the wrong place. The big ones that is. They beat the banks for them. Sight fish the visible bream beds.
Most of the time you'll find the big blue gill in deeper water. 4-6 feet has been my experience. I've cleaned house on some big ones over the years including hybrid bream. I have some bream that will will send a chill up your spine if you pull one out of the water about the edge of dark. Standing there looking at them in person they look photo shopped. Those are hybrids. They get so big they don't look right.

Just a cheap flyrod with a sinking black gnat will kill em in deeper water.
Or live crickets on a flyrod or regular fishing setup.

In the winter, go deeper yet again.

Best place to learn is on a pond where it's easier to study the water for signs of deep water bed fanning. And being able to track by scent.
It carries over to big water.

We call the big ones lap or ~breast~ bream. When they get too big to wrap your hand around them and extract a hook. Instead they have to be held in the lap or up against the breast with one hand while the other extracts the hook.

Dinks on the bank. Daddy in the deep.
 

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I've caught over 30 citation shellcrackers from lake Camack, Burlington city lake. I use whole nite crawlers on a small hook,nose hooked, no weight, 4 lb line. Double anchor on main lake points, rocky ones are best, 8-10fow. Casts several rods all around the boat, leave ya bail open. I've caught 2 that were 32 oz each from farm ponds yrs ago. both on 1/32 maraboo jigs fished close to bottom. My two biggest bluegill were from Lake Hunt in Reidsville, 22 an 24 oz. both hit live crawlers fished as descibed before. I got two huge bluegill last winter from Hyco Lake while crappie fishin a bucktail. both were close to a pound.
 

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They can be tough to find in the bigger waters but I have noticed that some of the biggest ones seem to be found very near the end of their range where fresh water starts to get salty. Maybe they overlap with shrimp or other food there. I have caught several that are right around citation size (and I am sure a few were over) in my small neighborhood pond. I don't measure those because like you I don't feel like that's "earned". I think reproduction is very poor there and the HOA discourages keeping them because of fertilizers and street runoff (creek that feeds it is mostly wet weather; only a trickle at other times) so they are old.
 

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I agree with you about slightly brackish water putting out some big bream.
When I was young, I went with one of my great uncles to the Chocawhatchee River in FL and had one of the most amazing bream fishing days ever. I remember him commenting that about a mile down you wouldn't catch a single one. We loaded the boat with big bream for a fish fry.

EDIT - I almost wish I hadn't pulled up that memory. Now I am Jonesing for some FL time...
 

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A black water (acridic water) pond will grow some fish. We have a pond like that that has white perch we catch on bass minnows.

Lake Mattamuskeet. Huge raccoon perch in big numbers. I use to fish it multiple days at the time twice year religiously but I haven't kept up with the management of the lake.
It's all federal. You would have a manager that favored the ducks and then you would get one that managed it for ducks and fish. The different management styles you could tell by how much water was in the lake. Great place to wade and fly fish for bass and perch, and huge gar.
 
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