When I was growing up out on the rural route, there were lots of activities to keep youngsters busy especially in summer when school was over for three months.
High on the list of things to do was to go out behind the cow barn with a shovel and empty Prince Albert tobacco can and dig among the dried cow patties for earthworms. Cane poles that spent the winter on the back wall of the cow barn were taken down, black-braided line tied onto a pole, then a bream hook, lead sinker and cork float were attached. It was time to head for the creek.
Molido was a clear and sparkling little creek with several dark holes snaked through the oaks and beeches behind our house. This was not only where we swam but the darker holes were lairs for a variety of fish – we called them all “perch.”
There were the freckled little fish we called “red perch,” blue bills and goggle eyes, all of which offered kids lots of fun. Bringing a day’s catch home guaranteed a fish fry for supper that night.
Bream fishing today is quite a bit different than those cane pole/earthworm forays to the creek years ago. Last year, a bream tournament was held on Lake D’Arbonne, giving credence to the fact that catching big bream is pretty big business.
This time of year, the lakes are crowded with fishermen armed with fiberglass poles or ultra-light spinning rods tipped with tiny spinners. Instead of messing with gooey earthworms, gray crickets are the preferred live bait for serious bream fishermen.
It has been decades since I fished on a creek and today I concentrate my bream fishing excursions to the friendly confines of a farm pond, one I have fished for years. It couldn’t be easier. I settle down in a comfortable folding chair beneath the shade of a big oak and toss my cricket into an area where year after year, big bream congregate this time of year for spawning.
Watching the cork hovering over the cricket, it’s still exciting to me when I see it bobble and then go under. This means I’m hooked up with a bream. Most of the ones I catch are big bluegills but I can be assured that at least a couple will be red eared sunfish – around here we call them chinquapins.
Our part of the state doesn’t have a corner on good bream fishing. Every freshwater lake in the state of Louisiana has hefty populations of big bream that are there for the taking.
I am fortunate that where I sit on my favorite pond is within a short cast from the bream bed I know is there. On lakes, because of so much more water surface where to look for bream, it usually takes little effort to troll slowly around the lake until you catch a big one. You can usually drop anchor right there because you very likely are within casting distance of a bream bed that will keep you busy until you catch all you want to bring home.
There is no better eating fish than bream, especially when coated with yellow mustard, dumped in a bag of Louisiana Fish Fry product and dropped into hot peanut oil.
A big bluegill or chinquapin is easy to filet and if you catch enough, you have the makings of a fine fish fry. I usually save a few smaller ones that I scale, gut and fry whole. I’ll take one of these and first take a bite of the crispy tail; it’s like eating a potato chip. Then I “unzip” it by carefully removing the fin along the back and the smaller one on the underside and separate the fish into two parts. Remove the row of bones and you have a mouth-watering couple of bites that when dipped in tartar sauce or ketchup is flat-out hard to beat.
Now that I’ve made you hungry, there is no excuse for not heading out to a pond or lake and catch a mess of bream. This time of year, it’s happening big time.