John Flores: Fishing for bream should be part of Fourth of July
One of the best things about federal holidays like the Fourth of July that fall on the weekend is most companies give employees the day prior or after off. Depending on if it’s a Saturday or Sunday that is. And, what’s better than a three-day weekend?
A couple of weeks back I began watching the Morgan City river stages. It was predictable that the water in the Atchafalaya River would be falling precipitously and by the time the Fourth of July weekend rolled around a pretty darn good bream bite would be in full swing.
Of course, I had to test my prognostication, so I marked the calendar with a few dates to go fishing. Last Saturday being one of them. Sure enough, the bluegills and red ear sunfish fishing was stellar. Mrs. Flores and I brought home from Flat Lake 31 red ears, also known around these parts as chinquapins.
They were pretty ones too. All were in the 8- to 9-inch length and we even had a couple that hit 10 inches long. So, with that successful test, I marked the calendar again for July 3.
There’s nothing better than spending Independence Day on the water with good company catching a mess of bream. After all, there is that pursuit of happiness part of the Declaration of Independence. And, it seems to me fishing is exactly what those founding fathers had in mind.
The thing about bream fishing is to keep it simple. Case in point, this past weekend a feller from Denham Springs (Note: I didn’t catch his name) hollers at me from across the bayou. Seeing me and Christine catching fish he says, “How do you catch a fish around here? My wife and I have been trolling all morning and ain’t caught a fish yet.”
I told him that we were using a No. 6 Aberdeen hook set 3½’ beneath a balsa wood float with a small split shot set about 12 inches above the hook to make it set right. Moreover, for bait we were using red worms.
He said, “Well I’m now in the right church, now all I have to do is find me a pew. My wife and I’ve been using artificial lures, but I brought a box of worms.”
He found him a little spot amongst the cypress trees, where several boats were fishing and immediately started catching bream. And from the sound of his wife, they began to have a little fun.
It’s not that artificial lures don’t work for bream, they certainly do. Lures like Johnson Beetle Spins or H&H Lures Pro Cajun Spins are very effective under the right conditions. Particularly, in the 1/16th and 1/32nd ounce sizes. These lures come in a variety of colors of which black and chartreuse, black with yellow stripes, and yellow with black stripes are popular.
I have to admit, though it’s fun catching bream on lures you fooled them with, I’ve simply found you catch a lot more bluegills, chinquapins, and goggle eyes on live bait like crickets and worms.
Many of the fish we caught were full of eggs meaning they are probably into a second spawn. Bream spawn when the water temperature is 69.8 to 89.6 degrees, with the peak temperature being 75 degrees.
Essentially, bluegills and red ear sunfish can spawn more than once during the spring and summer months in two to six feet of water being preferred. With the Atchafalaya River stage falling below five feet this week, there will literally be hundreds of locations throughout the Atchafalaya Basin to catch panfish.
Look for any structure in five feet of water along canal banks. Fish points that form a submerged flat. Patches of thick grass usually produce quite a few small ones, but if you’re willing to cull, you’ll eventually pick up a few keepers to fill your ice chest.
There’s nothing like a good fish fry. And, what better day than the Fourth of July. As always, be safe on the water and make sure not just the little ones wear their personal floatation devices, which is required by law, but make sure you do as well.
With heat indexes approaching 100 degrees plus, be sure to bring along plenty of water and sunscreen with no less than SPF 30.
Here’s wishing you a fantastic Independence Day weekend.