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Bream among smallest game fish, angler's appetites for these delicacies almost insatiable

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JACKSON, Mississippi — Although bream are among the smallest game fish, angler's appetites for these little delicacies are almost insatiable. Filleted or whole, the sight of golden fried bream bubbling in a pot of hot oil is enough to make just about anyone's mouth water.

The hotspots for bream are no secret. Lake Perry, Prentiss Walker Lake, Tippah County Lake and several other lakes are well known for quality bream fishing. But there are a few more places you don't want to overlook for big bream this spring.

Located in Lee County, northeast of Saltillo, Lake Lamar Bruce has been under the radar for a while. It was known for good bluegill but closed in December 2011 for dam repairs. Now, the wait to fish this 300-acre lake is almost over.

A youth day for anglers 15 and younger is scheduled for May 2, and the general opening is planned for May 6. As with any lake opening, a large crowd of anglers is expected, but the opportunity to catch fish that have never seen a bait should be worth it.

Moving south

In central Mississippi, the 71-acre Lake Claude Bennett is already coming on strong this year. The redear sunfish bite has been strong for several weeks and some have been as long as a license plate. The lake record redear is 3 pounds, 5 ounces, which is a trophy by virtually anyone's standard.

The bluegill aren't shabby either, and that bite is reported to be picking up. The lake record for bluegill is 2 pounds, 2 ounces.

Lake Jeff Davis near Prentiss is also a good destination this year. Jeff Davis reopened in 2013 after a closure for dam work and renovations.

Prior to its closure, it was known for being a solid bream lake in the southern portion of the state. While it hasn't produced the monsters Claude Bennett has, Jeff Davis has given up a 2-pound bluegill and a 2-pound, 7-ounce redear. Still relatively new from the renovation, Jeff Davis should produce quality fish and plenty of them this year.

Going wild

The Pascagoula River in southeast Mississippi is the only unimpeded river system of its size draining into the Gulf of Mexico. As much of a jewel as that makes it, the bream fishing makes the Pascagoula River shine even brighter.

"The anglers down here, the ones we've talked to, are targeting sunfish," Steven Brown, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks biologist, said. "There's plenty of fish. They are out there."

Brown said that while the backwaters do have quality fish, the bluegill and redear aren't quite as large as those seen in some of the managed lakes. But he noted the numbers make up for it.

Brown also pointed out that with its cypress-lined banks, beautiful scenery and wildlife, fishing the Pascagoula River is more than just filling an ice chest with fish.

"You're going there not only for the fishing but because it is a unique system," Brown said. "It's about going down there just to see it."

Big Daddy

The Mississippi River is a living, breathing thing, and it never stays one place. That has left our western border lined with some of the best oxbow lakes to be found.

"They normally have really good bream fishing," Nathan Aycock, MDWFP biologist, said. "The lake I'm most familiar with is Lake Washington. It has a really good bream fishery."

Aycock said creel surveys conducted at Washington have shown a half-pound average for bream, which he considers to be excellent. But others offer a quality experience as well.

Lake Whittington, Eagle Lake, Lake Ferguson and Lake Beulah were all on Aycock's list of places bream anglers should visit.

"It's just a different fishery," Aycock said. "Finding big bream might be tougher, but if you know what you're doing, you can catch just as many and just as big as you would in a state lake."

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