Wednesday, May 29, 2002, Lannan Bayou, Lake Toledo Bend, LA.
As fast as the tiny wiggling critters could be hooked and offered to their hunger was as quick as those multi-colored sun-perch would be caught and flipped into our boats live-well. But in betwixt all of this frantic fishing action, very strange eerie murmurings began resonating from the back of the boat. Upon spotting the source of these strange linguistic mutterings my composure completely crumpled into a fit of uncontrollable laughter!
'No self respecting bream angler uses bobbers today', Noe gruffly remarked to my request as we began setting up for bream fishing on Lake Toledo Bend. 'Well, I responded in confused amazement, just how are we going to catch these critters then?' 'We'll be fishing right on the bottom with drop-shot rigs', Noe answered while handing out fishing rigs to me, and my guest-angler. "Well shoot, I answered in agitated disappointment, half the fun of bream fishing is watching the bobber "zip-off" after the critter grabs the bait!' "Wait and see, Noe answered with knowing grin, 'Wait and see!'
There probably isn't another fresh-water species of fish that has had so much fishing pressure put on it than the bream. "Bream", a blanket term used for those pan-fish species that belong to the sun-perch or bluegill family, are what most of us first started catching at the very early stages of our fishing enjoyments. Commonly referred to as sun-perch, gill, chinquapin, or just brim (bream) these multi-colored little rascals can take a bow for being responsible for the start for most of the successful sport-fishing careers that mark our top touring Pro-Anglers of today's national tournament trials.
Toledo Bend Lake has long enjoyed being in the lime light as a bream fishing Mecca for anglers who enjoy quality fishing. And within the spectrum of that popularity, Lakecaster staff members, Noe Garcia, Patty Schaefer, and myself, decided to play a little "bream-hooky" from our normal routines of working the monthly pages of the Lakecaster magazine to enjoy each others company as well as for having some "fun fishing time" on Lake Toledo Bend.
"Soooo, I re-agitated to my fishing guide amigo, and Toledo Bend field editor, Noe Garcia, where are the bobbers?' 'Over there in the forward compartment, Noe reluctantly pointed after flipping another "drop-shot" bream into the boat from bank shallow waters.
'May is usually prime-time bream fishing for Toledo Bend, Noe informed my interest, 'I totally agree with that, Patty Schaefer chimed in as she moved towards the back of the boat to bait up, adding that this was when egg laden females began moving to the sandy banks to spawn. (Patty Schaefer, Lakecaster field editor and active free-agent with Texas Outdoor Writers Association, was along on this trip to relax and enjoy, as well as to absorb and record some active fishing notes for her outdoor writers log.)
Our bream-fishing trip started at 7am with a quick boat-run up into Lannan Bayou. Located on the Louisiana side of Lake Toledo Bend, about mid-lake near the Pendleton Bridge area, the bayou, or bay, is a favorite bream hot-spot for perch-jerkers, but Toledo Bend, a 185,000 acre reservoir with over 1,200 miles of shoreline, is absolutely full of such prime bream fishing "hot-spots" which harbors literally "MILLIONS" of these most prolific species of the sunfish family.
'Although at this time of year, Noe explained, most bream can be found on the shallow flats and brush piles from May through July, they can also be found within the deeper brush, or stump-flats as they move out for post spawn.
The fishing action became hot and heavy for all three of us as a steady catch of bream began to fill our live-well, but in betwixt this frenzy of fishing and catching activity, I soon became aware of some very strange and eerie linguistic murmurings, which were emanating from near the cricket basket at back of the boat. Then, upon spotting the source of these very strange mutterings, I completely lost it as my composure crumpled into a fit of uncontrollable laughter!
It seemed that our beloved team member, Patty Schaefer, was having a serious problem with catching crickets from the cricket basket. After reaching inside to catch one of the dozens of nervous little critters running around within that cage she would having a very negative reaction from their tiny little "bug-feet" crawling all over her hand, which then caused her to utter unintelligible "Geekchigawdyeeektapoo" murmurings before she could finally nab onto one of those fleeting critters for attaching it to her fishing hook.
The sight of this happening to a veteran lady angler who fishes numerous bass tournaments, and who has experienced "tuff" freezing weather and high-water river conditions while fishing winter white bass runs, as well as fighting "toe-to-toe" battles for some hot striper action story-lines, could become intimidated by these tiny bugs, was just too much for me to handle as I completely lost my composure and rolled off my seat to the bottom of the boat in a fit of uncontrollable laughter. After "finally" reclaiming my composure, I then "tearfully" reached out to assist Patty with her "critter-getter" predicament, but was gruffly rebuffed as she began muttering over and over again, 'I can do this, I can do this, I can do this, which of course immediately put me right back into another spasm of uncontrollable guffaws!
'Drop-shot rigging for bream "and" crappie is a new, and very successful fishing technique for catching them now, Noe informed me as we busied ourselves to the task of catching enough of these "tasty" critters for photo-ops as well as for a fried bream and tater feast for later on. Although this technique was introduced as a prime bass fishing method, the bream and crappie anglers soon adopted it as well.
Best set-up for doing this type of fishing is with spinning or spin-cast gear, then tie on a drop-shot rig by tying on a ½ or 1/4 oz bell sinker to the bottom end of your fishing line. Then about 6" to 8" above the sinker, tie on a #8 or #6 Aberdeen bream hook directly to the line in such a way as to have it stand out from the line in a horizontal position (barb-up). And depending on what kind of depth and water conditions you are fishing in, the use of 4-lb to 6-lb test monofilament lines are best for shallow water structure, with 6-lb to 8-lb test braided lines doing better for the snags of deepwater stump-flats or brush-piles. (Aberdeen hooks are the best option for this type of fishing as they'll bend out upon snagging up within the heavy brush, but will easily allow you to re-bend them back into proper shape for fishing.)
'When you fish this type of rig, Noe alerted to me, the bream will actually hook-set themselves if you can keep a tight-line. 'These rigs also work very well when fishing just about any fishing structure, Noe further informed, but are absolutely deadly when straight-lined directly over deep-water brush-piles or brushy stump-flats.
To show us just how successful this drop-shot technique can be when fished over deep water brush, Noe quickly pulled us off from our bank shallow fishing area and moved his 21' Skeeter/Yamaha guide-rig out onto a nearby deepwater brushy stump-patch that he recently baited with a perch-sack filled with cottonseed cake.
(NOTE: a perch-sack is a fine meshed onion, or burlap sack, which is filled with alfalfa hay, and or, seeded with a block of cottonseed cake, then, when tied off to a stump, becomes a strong attraction for bream, catfish, crappie, and even bass, who then congregate around the baited area as it attracts baitfish and water-bugs.)
'AND I MEAN TO TELL YA' FOLKS, the fish were absolutely stacked around that stump-patch as we caught numerous species of bream such as Longear, Redear, Green-ear, Pumpkinseed, and Bluegill, as well as Catfish, Crappie and Bass from around that baited stump-patch, and despite those strange "Geekchigawdyeeektapoo" murmurings resonating from the back of the boat, Noe, Patty, and myself enjoyed a very relaxing day of playing a little "bream-hooky" on Lake Toledo Bend.
For connecting up with some superb "bream-hooky" action on Lake Toledo Bend, contact Noe Garcia at (318)-645-4029 or you can page him at (318)-256-4990.
(Writers note- For my personal taste, drop-shot rigging for bream has now become my primary rig for fishing bream around deep-water structure, but the "bobber" is still my #1 choice for main-lining a day of absolute happiness from the bank shallow bream-beds. Besides, watching that bobber "zip-off" after a critter takes your bait STILL provides this now "seasoned" writer/angler with much the same excitement as it did "back-when".)
Writers Note: "PLEASE, can someone tell me what "Geekchigawdyeeektapoo" means?!