Today is Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fill me to the Bream

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Now you get idea of the size of White Oak bream.

Gotta be one of my favorite fish, both to catch and certainly to eat. Call 'em whatever you want -- bluegill, perch, sunnies, bream, shellcracker or chinquapin or redear -- they fight like crazy and when it comes to an eating fish, they make about as great a meal as you will eat.

For kids and learning -- best fish swimming.

Even though the fishing here is quite good, right now, it is time for one of my annual trips to White Oak Plantation just for bream.

They are back in operation for those who want to fill some bags with bream fillets and the Judge and I need to go help thin the population.

Truth is, I need a road trip. May/June are prime months and White Oak has a new family plan that they will gladly explain to you.

Of course, you can also catch bream here...just not quite as big.

Rumor has it, they bed on the full moon in May. If there happens to be two full moons, they bed twice.

Truth is, I have found them to bed whenever they want, full moon or not. You can catch more and catch them easier when they are on the bed, but I have caught them all summer long.

At White Oak, with the feeders running, it doesn't matter when they bed.

Back about 40 years ago, we caught them in the heat of the summer, along the bluffs on Center Hill. We fished crickets under ¼-ounce worm weights, 20-35 feet down. Caught a few big ones, too, scattered along the high bluffs.

I have caught them on Priest and on Old Hickory.

I have caught them on crickets, red worms, meal worms, wax worms, pecan worms, catalpa worms and a variety of artificial lures.

The secret to finding them here, especially on Old Hickory is, look for willow trees with willow flies swarming around it.

A small, brown grub on a 1/16 or 1/32 ounce jig can be deadly. The bison colored, trout magnet is a dandy lure.

When I really wanted to fill the freezer with bream fillets, I called my adopted uncle, Lester Paul down in Louisiana and we would meet at White Oak Plantation near Tuskegee, Ala., with a box full of small, soft, artificial grubs.

Lemme tell you a true bream story.

It was coming good daylight one late spring day, about 85 degrees.

Uncle Lester had just finished his fourth or fifth cup of morning coffee in the dining room at White Oak.

This was about five years ago, maybe a tad more. We had decided to forego an early morning bass attack and wait till the sun hit the water. Bream bite better after good sunup and we were craving some bull bream action and bags of fillets to take home.

Uncle Lester, he says, "We need about a hunnert, titty bream. (That is a perfectly acceptable term meaning the bream is so big you have to hold it to your breast to remove the hook. It won't fit in your hand.)

His thinking was, it takes five bream that size to make a meal for two. He was...and is, correct. That would be 10 meals each.

We had this little bitty Pond Hopper boat, light rods loaded with four pound test line and plenty of 1/16-ounce jig heads with grub tails.

So, we set out on the pond at the Lodge where the bream are cultivated and well fed.

Now these bream were not what one normally catches around here. We have some good fish in our area waters but on this morning, we did not even think about keeping anything you could comfortably hold in your hand.

These fish would pull the boat around before you got them in. They were these big Georgia bream stocked to grow quickly.

We got on the water about 8:30, while the fog was still on the water and by the time it got good hot, somewhere around 10:00, we had all we wanted to clean that morning. I suspect we had close to 50 in the two coolers.

We did that two straight mornings and when we counted up, we each had 10 vacuum bags of fillets- a meal for two or three people in each bag. Folks, that is bream fishing at its' very best.

As a boy, when the water flooded the Louisiana swamp and the pecan worms were dropping off the bitter pecan trees, it was not at all uncommon to tie up, sit in one spot and catch a hundred out from under one tree.

One year, fishing at Toledo Bend in that lake's early days, four of us in two boats, caught over 150 keeping size and never moved. We were fishing slip corks and as soon as the bobber hit the water, it went under. That is some fun fishing.

White Oak is open again to limited, public fishing.

What I suggest is that you contact Robert Pitman and see just what he has to offer. I promise you will not be disappointed.

You can contact those folks at 334-727-9258 or hunt@whiteoakplantation.com for full information.

What a great family, getaway weekend. Me, I'm going pretty soon, myownself.

Now, more about bream fishing. They are also a great teaching fish for kids.

The recipe is simple and inexpensive. Take one cane pole some line, a cork, a light weight and a bream hook.

Now add a cricket or meal worm and a kid. Don't forget the camera and some snacks and cold drinks.

This is the prime month, so they tell me. Give it some thought and be on the lookout for willow flies.

And that is the way it really happened...give or take a lie or two.

An archive of Sloan's work can be found online at wilsonpost.com. Contact the author at jsloan1944@gmail.com.

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Bream, fishing, John L. Sloan, Outdoors, White Oak Plantation
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