My bobber settled on the surface of the 60-acre lake just long enough for the small split-shot weight, hook and minnow to make the 1-inch piece of orange and white Styrofoam stand vertical.
Then, it shot underwater and out of sight.
“That didn’t take long,” laughed my old bream fishing partner Joe Watts of Canton. “Told you — full moon in May would put them in their beds and easy to find.”
Two hours and about 100 crickets later, we had all the hand-sized bluegill, with a few chinquapins tossed in, we cared to clean, which was a 48-quart ice chest full.
May is a big month for bream fishing, with a peak of bedding activity for the popular bluegill. The state’s thousands of stock ponds and lakes, its river oxbows, public lakes and even its streams are all great places to toss a cricket under a bobber and catch a mess of fish.
Early in the month, especially in the northern half of the state, some chinquapin bream (redear) will also be bedding.
“You can double on them in the right situation, because you can actually find bluegills and chinks sharing the same bedding areas,” said Watts, who lives on and fishes a 60-acre subdivision lake near Canton. “Normally, the chinqs bed earlier than the bluegills, but in some years and in some waters, conditions aren’t right until later in April and even May.
“This year with an early full moon (May 3), I think we will see a big overlap. That is ideal.”
Thanks to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and its state lake and state park system, fishermen have several excellent public bream holes to visit. Most offer plenty of bank-fishing opportunities, with fish attractors placed close to piers.
My favorite state lakes for bream, in a south to north order, are no-brainers.
Lake Perry: Near Beaumont, this little jewel never lets me down, and long-time lake manger Gathel Hinton, now the South State Lake Manager, calls it the best fly-fishing lake ever for bream.
Lake Prentiss Walker: Near Mize, this is where the big ones swim, so go there for quality over quantity.
Kemper County Lake: Near DeKalb, this lake can test anglers because the bream bed a little deeper. Figure that out and the fishing is great.
Trace State Park: Up north, just outside of Pontotoc, is one of the best panfish lakes in the state. This year should be perfect for finding both bluegill and chinquapins on the beds in May.
Tippah County Lake: This Lake, near Ripley, is not to be missed. It is one of the best-kept MDWFP lakes, has great scenery and camping, and the fishing is outstanding. It produced the state’s redear record of 3.3 pounds.