First, it wiggled, the fluorescent orange tip of the Styrofoam moving just a bit in the bright morning sun.
Then, the little “cork” rose a little bit in the water, as if the weight from the line beneath had been removed, and …
Hey! Wait! That had to be a bite.
“There’s one,” I said to my pal Joe, who was still rigging up his pole after putting the boat in position. “And, it’s a good one, too; it’s got some meat on its sides.
“That fish must have been off the bottom a good bit because it never took the cork under. When he grabbed the cricket, he must have pulled the split shot up with it, because the cork elevated about a quarter inch.”
I quickly got the fish to the boat and lifted it over the side. It filled my hand.
“Big chinquapin, Joe; that’s a good start,” I said, realizing it was falling on deaf ears. My partner was busy and his hands were full.
“Hey, I got one too on my first cricket,” Joe Watts said. “I told you the full moon would put them on the bed. A late March full moon is a sure thing for bedding redear.
“Hey, look, that’s a big bluegill, a big bull bluegill. We are going to have us some fun now.”
His excitement rose a notch when he recognized the broad, nearly black back of his fish.
“Looks like both are bedding right now,” he said. “This could get crazy.”
An hour and a half later, our 48-quart cooler was full of big bream, a mix of bluegill and the bigger, but slightly fewer redear. All were big enough to fillet back at the house. At the end of the cleaning, we each had a gallon Zip-loc bag filled with the pretty white panfish meat.
“There’s a lot of good eating in those bags,” said Joe.
“Yep, and almost as much fun frying them up and eating them as it was catching them,” I said. “Just not quite as much.”
That scene was a couple of years ago, but could just have easily been today in Mississippi. Spring officially arrived last weekend and the moon goes full tonight. There’s a pretty good chance we will find both on the beds Friday morning.
When both species are bedding, we usually find them sharing the same areas and it is the one time of year that we offer them the same food.
A crickets is always our bait of choice for bluegill, which usually suspends somewhere in the water column.
Redear, also known as chinquapin or shellcracker, are more bottom-oriented and in most instances we tight-line them on the bottom without a strike indicator (cork). We use a big night crawler or catalpa worm.
The exception for redear is when they are bedding, especially when sharing the beds with bluegill. Then it’s crickets all around, which are quicker to reload and a lot less messy.
(The real difference between crickets and a worm is that after using worms, you have to stop and wash your hands thoroughly before eating your boat lunch. With crickets, a good wipe on a towel will do … I can see my wife puking.)