So far this spring, the fishing has been limited to a few saltwater trips and a couple freshwater trips. Blufloyd, an avid fisherman and regular visitor at bayouwoman.com, has been bragging here and elsewhere about fly fishing for bream. It’s interesting the different names used for these little freshwater beauties across the country. Think about it, a cat is a cat everywhere in the country, as a dog is a dog, a cow is a cow, and so on. You get my point.
Well, this gorgeous little fish, caught yesterday while fishing with my retired buddy J.G., has more names than you can shake a cane pole at. Down the bayou, this is called a patassa (pah tah SAH), or perch. The activity of fishing these tasty treats is locally called “perch jerking”, a term no doubt coined back in the day of cane-pole fishing from the bank. Other places refer to this as a sun fish or bluegill. Growing up catching these at Toledo Bend, LA, we simply called them bream (brim). No matter what you call these tiny delights, they are excellent fried fresh, whole and crispy!
Not only do bream have a plethora of names, but so do some of the other species we caught. One of those is the fish J.G. and I set out to target on our most recent trip, the white perch. Or is it crappie? Or is it black crappie? No matter what you might call it, we call this freshwater delicacy sac-au-lait (sock uh LAY), which means “sack of milk”. I’m not quite sure why the locals in south Louisiana refer to this fish as a “sack of milk”, but maybe one of you who is steeped in Cajun linguistic lore can educate us. Regardless of the name, by now you have gathered that we did NOT find this fish on our foray, indicated by the lack of a photo of said species!
The absence of sac au lait didn’t bother me, because beaucoup of these cute little red-ear fishes gobbled up my worms quicker than I could say night crawler. The proof is in the photo—I didn’t even have time to wipe the worm dirt off my fingers before this little cutie sucked it off the hook. So, what do YOU call this fish? Up in central and north Louisiana, this fish is called a chinquapin (CHINK uh pin) and is another member of the bream/sunfish family. No matter what you call them, they are just as good eating as any freshwater pan fish.
No freshwater fishing trip would be complete without snagging a little bass. Even though this is rather small as far as bass go, I thought Blufloyd would like to see the proof. And who knew that bass liked night crawlers? Speaking of fish food . . .
No old-fashioned fishing trip would be worth its weight in fish scales if it didn’t include this staple item! And please notice the serving utensil, but don’t be confused. This was OUR snack, not fishing bait! If you think for one second that serving Vienna sausages with a fish hook isn’t sanitary, then back up to the photo above where my fingers are covered in worm dirt. Hey, it’s okay. I washed my hands in the bayou before I ate my share!
Oh, and I almost forgot. J.G. uses a “fish towel” to hold the fish while removing the hook. She gave me some sage advice yesterday as I cleaned my worm-dirty hands and handed the fish towel back to her. She said, “Oh by the way. Don’t EVER blow your nose on the fish towel. That is a mistake you will ONLY make once!” I almost wet my fishing pants at that one while she assured me she spoke from experience. J.G. is now a spunky seventy-something, and I pay rapt attention when she gives me fishing advice.
So there you have the most recent fishing report. We caught a nice mess of bream, which I will clean right now and share with a couple widows on the bayou. They don’t fish for themselves, and with their husbands gone, I’m happy to fill that gap when I can.