Bream, red-ear, bluegills, sunnies, shellcracker, goggle-eye or perch, whatever you call them, the chances are that one of them was the first fish you caught as a kid. These wonderful little fish don’t get enough credit. They’re relatively easy to catch, they don’t require a lot of tackle, they fight surprisingly well and they can make excellent table fare if you choose. Let’s just refer to them as bream for today.
Larger fish like bass and catfish are sought for their fighting prowess. I’ll match the fight in a bluegill ounce for ounce with any of the larger species and you don’t have to make excuses if you feel like taking a few home for the dinner table. If you take a close look at members of the sunfish family you’ll see that they are also as colorful and artistically hued as any wild trout. The best part is that they are practically in your back yard.
Bream will usually bite all year if you are in the right spot. Take some light fishing gear like light or ultra light spinning rods and you’ll have a blueprint for a good day. Add the right baits and you’ll be surprised how much fun you can have. Like many other fish they seek, shelter, a comfortable water temperature and food.
Some good places to hunt in spring include sandy edges of lakes and ponds, and calm pools in rivers or streams. Take along some wax worms, crickets or small sinking fishing flies to catch a stringer full. A favorite technique is to employ small bobbers about three feet above your bait and slowly retrieve your offering around brush, sand or rocks to discover their spawning areas.
In the summer try small in-line spinner like Panther Martins or Rooster Tails. Small spoons that imitate tiny baitfish are also winners for the spinning reel enthusiast. You still can’t go wrong with wax worms on cane poles for fun. If you can find the shade of a bridge, overhanging trees or if you have access to the docks around marinas, you should do well.
In the fall, as the water starts to cool, try dabbing small worms, crickets or even small crappie jigs like the Bass Pro Shops Pro Lite jigs found in the White River Fly Shop. The fish are still going to be in the marinas, under bridges and along rocky, brush-laden shorelines, but they tend to hang out just a bit deeper.
Winter can be a great time for bream if we use just a little logic. We’ve all heard that we need to downsize our bait for other species like bass and crappie in the colder months. The same holds true, for bream, but for a slightly different reason.
During the warmer months we see dragonflies, damsel flies and a myriad of different bugs flitting onto the water and dancing around the edges. These flying versions of the bugs are the adult stage. They do not live very long. As a matter of fact, just about the main thing an adult flying insect does is mate and die. We get to enjoy their mating dances as they reproduce. Most of the water born, like mayflies, midges, caddis, stone flies and dragonflies’ eggs drop through the water column, and begin their pupae and larval lives in the water or very nearby. The flying “parents” bugs have long since died, so we don’t see them, but the life cycle continues underwater out of sight of the angler’s eyes. They also become number one on the menu for bream.
You can find some outstanding bream baits in the White River Fly Shop in Bass Pro Shops of Garland. Try bead headed Squirrel Nymphs, Prince Nymphs, or Wooly Buggers just to start with, I’ve used them on bream with great success for many years. Try trout style nymph flies in size 10, 12, 14 and even smaller. Don’t be put off by the miniscule size, they’re deadly. While you’re here ask your pro fishing staff what kinds of baits they’ve used!