I’m breathing a major sigh of relief thanks to another turkey hunting season having come to an end.
Day after day of getting up at 4:30 a.m., trying to adjust a daily schedule contrary to normal patterns, and dealing with the frustrations inherent to the sport can take a toll. I’ve often felt it’s a toss-up as to whether I’m more excited about the arrival of opening day or relived when another season comes to an end.
It’s time to turn attention to an outdoor activity that is far less demanding, far more predictable, and about as relaxed as any type of hunting or fishing can be – fishing for bedding bream.
May’s full moon is traditionally the time of peak bedding activity for bream, a generic term embracing bluegills, shellcrackers, warmouths, long-eared perch and other panfish. There is no easier time to catch a stringer of them.
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On a warm, calm day you can actually smell bream beds.
There are other ways to find them: paying close attention for disturbances along shorelines, looking for their saucer-shaped beds, in clearer water,spotting places where something has caused the water to muddy a bit. Another good sign is to watch for marauding bass looking for a meal.
The careful angler can, by starting at the outside of the bedding area and gradually working inward with a lure or bait, often catch several fish before they wise up. At that point it is time to “rest” the bed and move to another one. You can always return to the first bed an hour or so later.
There are many effective techniques for catching bedding bream. The tried-and-true method of using bait of crickets and red worms is highly productive.
Or just bait a hook with a bobber at a suitable distance above the bait and lob it into the bedding area. More often than not you will get a bite in short order.
Various artificial offerings also can produce weighty stringers.
Small in-line spinners such as beetle-spins or Mepps lures, cast to the bed and retrieved fairly slowly, bring strikes with regularity.
For the fly fisherman, nymphs, dry flies or popping bugs work nicely.
One favorite fly-fishing technique is to use a combo rig featuring a popping bug with a nymph suspended 18 inches or so below it. The popper does double duty as a lure and as a bobber. Occasionally you will get doubles, hooking a fish on both the bobber and the nymph. When that happens, two big hump-backed bream determined to go in opposite directions can be quite a thrill on a lightweight fly rod.
It is also possible to use fly-fishing offerings with a spinning rod. Special “bubbles” made to give casters the necessary weight to get flies or bobbers in the desired location do the trick quite nicely.
Whatever your preferred approach, there are a number of fringe benefits to fishing for bedding bream.
They strike readily and are easy to find. That translates to every likelihood of action, a good reason to take a youngster along. Kids get bored quickly, but with bream fishing that normally isn’t the case.
Bream also make mighty fine table fare. Whether fried whole or filleted, they provide tasty, delicate eating. With side dishes of hushpuppies or fries, slaw, and maybe some tartar sauce, you are set for hearty and enjoyable eating.
Nor do you need to feel guilty about keeping a bunch of bream. They readily overpopulate, especially in ponds and small lakes, and you are doing the body of water a favor by keeping what you catch.
Bream fishing is low key, can be pursued at any time of the day with pretty much equal likelihood of success and is accessible almost anywhere there is a body of water in this part of the world.
From major reservoirs to farm ponds, and even in creeks and rivers, bream are available in abundance. May is the month, above all others, when they shine, so it’s time to store turkey gear for another year and get out your fishing equipment.