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Today is September 16, 2021


May bluegills and a decent life

By Tony Kinton

May bluegills and a decent life

Bream country! Fish the shallows and cover in May. A big bluegill is good to catch and particularly good fried a golden brown.

I once wrote and have often said that all I needed to live a decent and contented life was learned on a bream lake. That conclusion is still firm. Yes, I had an abundance of lessons taught and learned otherwise, but within the parameters of decent and contented, a bream lake suffices.

During my growing-up years, our family was rather pedestrian. Funds were limited; work was strenuous. A poor-dirt farm demanding. Still, we loved and laughed and had what we needed. Decency and contentment reigned. And we all bream fished — sister, parents and me. Grand were those pre-dawn trips to some oxbow in the Mississippi Delta. Leave home at 2:00 a.m., arrive before daylight, rent a wooden boat and paddles, and bream fish.

One day from recall stands out as particularly valuable in lesson learning. My dad and I — sister and mama were fishing from the bank — paddled a ragged boat around a bend and came upon an aging gentleman, his boat tied to a snag and his cane pole in a perpetual bend as he dragged in plate-sized beam.

The spot was small, and an additional boat would crowd. I wanted to go in and suggested as much to my dad. He began a back paddle. When I looked puzzled and perhaps even agitated, he simply said, “He was here first. You wouldn’t want somebody to do that to you.” No, I wouldn’t. A lesson in decency, respect if you will, was taught quickly and learned thoroughly.

Those bi-annual trips to the Delta were monumental, requiring preparation and dedication from simple folk such as we. And I concluded, erroneously I was to learn, that we should expect and be rewarded with a bountiful catch each time. That was generally the case, a good catch and icebox full of bream. Except one I especially recall. This one was a man trip — a neighbor, his son, my dad and me. We had gathered crickets and grasshoppers and dug worms three days prior.

Fishing turned out sluggish. A few were boated, but those constant collections of bull bluegills simply did not materialize. I admit to whining, exasperated at the thought that this could happen and perhaps even expecting the two dads of the quartet to fix it, to unpack some sure cure, to somehow require cooperation from the elements and the conditions and the bream. No luck.

Looking back, I see the folly of my thinking. Fishing was poor, but the trip was pleasant. We fished. We had a safe drive. We talked of farming and fishing. That, I now know, was one of my earliest opportunities to deal with contentment. And that opportunity brought rich rewards, profitable even into aging years.

So, May is here. The month of bream fishing. The first full moon of this month is the target some say. A new chance is open to each, a chance to hone those fine edges of decency and contentment. And the new chance to catch bream!


Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. He lives in Carthage and is a Central Electric member. Visit for more information.

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