In most areas of Mississippi in May, bass and crappie have concluded their shallow spawning rituals and have entered that period of transition that will eventually put them back in deep summer haunts.

But for bluegill, this month is prime time, with the popular sunfish species hitting the peak of bedding season.

“You can find some bluegill bedding in April and continue finding some throughout the summer, but if you want to hit it at its best, then May is peak when you can really hammer them,” Canton’s Joe Watts said. “April and June can be good, but May — especially around the new and full moons (May 6 and 21, respectively) — is the best.

“I hear there’s a lot of people who say that the moon cycles don’t really have anything to do with it, but I don’t think there’s any doubt about it affecting the bedding, especially females. The bull (male) bream will stay on the beds nearly the whole time, but the females join them more often on the new and full moons, and the full moon is the best.”

There are many reasons for chasing bluegill, and No. 1 among them is how good they are to eat. A plate full of fried bream fillets or whole fish is hard to beat.

“Another is that in Mississippi, there’s a million places to catch them,” said MDWFP fisheries biologist David Berry, who is the agency’s state lakes coordinator. “Everything from farm ponds, reservoirs, and even creeks and streams are home to some kind of bream.”

Thanks to the MDWFP’s system of state lakes and state park lakes, Mississippians have plenty of choices all around the state. While some of the lakes might be better-known for their bass fishing, bream rule at all.

“In our system, bream are our bread-and-butter fish,” Berry said. “All of our lakes have good bream fishing, though some are better than others. We have worked hard to enhance the bluegill fishing at each location, building gravel beds and placing cover in many locations, including many that can be fished from the banks or piers.”

For more information on Mississippi’s state lake system, visit mdwfp.com and follow the prompts through fishing.