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Today is May 23, 2022

The joys of bluegills

By Tony Kintoa

The joys of bluegills

The author is proud of his bluegill.

I remember my daddy was paddling. Actually, he was more steering than paddling because we, in a ragged wooden boat, were riding a gentle and agreeable downstream current. He had, however, done some arduous paddling upstream to facilitate our placid drift down. I was awed by the entire affair. This was on the Old Straight along the Pearl River, near home. I had heard of it,
had fanaticized about its mystique while the grown folks chatted
of their experiences there, but I had never seen it. Then, on that spring day, it lay only inches from my fingertips. 

Courting the water’s edge on the left bank — for that matter, the right as well — were cypress trees. Big, imposing things that appeared to reach the stars, their bases encircled with knees which, that day, protruded from the surface waist-high to a youngster
such as I. The knees portrayed sentinels standing guard for their generals. They were star-touching cypress trees. 

“See if you can get your hook behind those knees and close to the tree,” daddy coaxed. I did, and so did without great fuss or infraction. We both were amazed at the accomplishment. And then the goose-quill “cork” stood on end, and gradually began to move away. “Pull to the side,” he said. And the battle began.

The fish scooted this way and that. The monofilament line, cutting through water as per the bream’s dictates, sang a curious tune, its sound adding to the placidity of the day and to the quivering excitement of the moment. A sound I yet hold in near reverence. Presently, the fish, a bull bluegill, was hefted over the gunwale and lay on the boat floor. My fantasies from days past and conversations heard immediately cemented into far more than I had imagined.

Bluegills — we call them bream — are among a rather lengthy list of sunfish available in Mississippi waters. And regardless of their proper names, many on that list are commonly designated bream — red ear, long ear, shell cracker, and redbelly. The name is not of great significance to the angler who is out for some recreation and exceptional eating but bream seems to fit just fine. But should one get me in a hammerlock and force me to choose in the catching and eating regimen, I opt singularly for the bluegill.

These various fishes, whatever they are called colloquially, are generally abundant and willing to cooperate. From palm-sized to dinner-plate sized, they are a joy to catch. And did I mention eating? Delightful, they are. A texture apart from catfish and a finely sweet taste. No better fishing exists for the newcomer than that employed for bream.

Some anglers conclude that the first full moon in May is the time to begin bream fishing. Maybe, maybe not. But since May is here, the time has come for some prospecting in ponds, lakes, and streams. Bream are there and should accommodate anyone who tosses an offering into those waters. 

 

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

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