“Bream” is the colloquial name given to a gregarious set of panfish species in the South. Typically, a bream is a bluegill, but can also include redear sunfish, also known as shellcrackers, redbreasts, and an assortment of other sunfish.
Most fishermen can probably trace their first fishing roots back to this more than willing fish. This time of year the most numerous of bream species, shellcrackers and bluegills, move into shallow waters to nest and lay eggs. The males prepare the nests and guard the nest from predators once the females have deposited eggs. This guardianship is what makes the fishing for big bull ‘gills so exciting. Males, decked out in almost solid black spawning colors, will strike at anything that comes near the nest with a vengeance.
Bream spawn around the full moon with shellcrackers usually taking the first ful moon in April and bluegills coming around the full moon in May. This year, with the early spring and the late full moon in April, it looks to be a bream free-for-all.
It’s also for this reason that fly rods and popping bugs make a great bedding bream arsenal. With the growing popularity of fly fishing over the years, tackle manufacturers began putting less expensive and more user friendly fly rods and combos on the market. A good quality fly rod combo can be had for about the same price as any baitcast or spinning outfit. Like spinning and baitcasting, it takes a bit of practice to learn to effectively handle a fly rod.
As for lures, match the size of the bait to the size of the fish. Bream have small mouths and bugs and flies with smaller hooks in the size 10 range will hook more fish. Larger baits with larger hooks are acceptable for the biggest bream and the not-so-occasional largemouth bass that shows up.
Locating a bream bed is more than half the battle. Bream prefer to bed in shallow water surrounded by plenty of structure. Typical bedding habitat will be muddy or sandy bottoms in shallow water around structure such as docks, brush or rocks.
Locating bream beds requires the use of at least four of the five senses. Look for visual signs of bedding such as saucer-like depressions in the bottom in clear water or tell-tale wakes of bream swimming in shallow water. Foamy, bubbles may also be present in backwater eddies from bream fanning as well as stirred up, muddy water. Look for beds to be located in the shallow flat areas in the upper reaches of most lakes.
If an area contains a large bream bed close to shore or if fishing without a boat, a good idea is to walk the bank or wade in the area and cast to the fish. Care should be exercised not to let your shadow cross the bed to keep from spooking fish.