To find success on bedding bream, one needs a nose for the sport.
“One of the first lessons my daddy gave me about fishing was smelling out bream beds,” said Joe Watts of Canton. “We were paddling across a lake one day and he stopped, turned up his head to take a big breath and said, ‘smell that son. That’s bream on a bed.’
“It took me a few deep breaths to find it on the wind and he was steadily telling me it smelled a lot like an overripe watermelon mixed with the dirt in the bottom of a box of red worms. What I remember after that is that we spent the next two hours filling a 48-quart ice chest with hand-sized bluegills, then that night we ate fried bream until I thought I was going to bust. I have been hooked on bluegill and chinquapin (redear) fishing ever since.”
It’s not that Watts doesn’t enjoy chasing bass and crappie, plus redfish and speckled trout, it’s just that the simplest form of fishing can create some of the best action.
“A pole (he uses an 11-foot B’n’M jig pole), a box of crickets and a cold adult beverage … ideal,” he said. “It is so relaxing, at least while you are fishing. Once it’s over, we’re usually looking at an hour or two of cleaning fish and that’s OK. The hardest decision is whether to fillet them or scale and gut them.”
Gladys Moore of Hattiesburg fries bream at least twice a week during May and June.
“Between me and my kids and my grandkids, we always catch a mess of fish two of three days a week,” Moore said. “I live out in the country and just about all us, me and my neighbors, have a few farm ponds where we can fish. Once we locate a bank with a bed within casting distance, we put up our chairs and go to catching. We go to some state parks and state lakes, too, but we mostly hit farm ponds and use crickets and worms on cane poles.”
Timothy Travis of Brandon uses another method to keep his freezer full of bream in May.
“I never use anything other than a fly rod,” Travis said. “I love to wade and cast flies on a small pond, and I love to scull a boat and cast flies on a bigger lake. I use both sinking bugs and surface poppers to catch bedding bream.
“When the females join the males on the bed, I always use a sinking fly because they have other things going on that takes their attention away from the surface. Otherwise, I like the floating fly. Once the females have left and the males are protecting the bed, the big bulls are more attentive and interested in a surface bug.”
Partners Billy Johnson and Ted Downey of Natchez cover as much water as possible, often using as many as 10 poles on their boat.
“Over saturation is what I call it,” Johnson said, laughing. “We use small, ultra-light spinning or spin-cast gear, and start working spots until we find some fish. Once we hit a hot spot, though, we cut back to a rod or two apiece so we can pick a bed apart without spooking the fish.
“With two of us, once we locate a bed, we position so that one of us can work one outside edge of the bed while the other guy works from the other end. The idea is to pick off the fish from the outside in to the middle of the bed. We rarely do that, though, so that the fish won’t abandon the bed or so that we don’t wipe out the bed. Instead, we take some and then move to find another bed.”
Their favorite lake is Okhissa, on the Homochitto National Forest near Bude.
“We have been lucky in locating about six good beds that nobody else has found,” Downey said. “When they built Okhissa, they created so many gravel areas for bream beds, but the places we found were not man-made and I think that’s what makes them so good. They are places that the fish want to be, not somewhere they will simply take advantage of because man built beds.”