Off the Hook!

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.

Bobbing corks,


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  1. I knew I should of took pix today. I got another big ole chinquapin on a rubber spydie. Going back in am with yak and a daylight launch.

    Here is the last one I caught.


    1. Have you heard of a man in Raceland who makes a little bug that bream like to eat? It’s so cute! Came across it yesterday. Will find link for you later and wondering if Chicagoland fish would eat it!!

      1. bayou boogie bug or something? I think.

        I been hammering with size 12 or 10 black spiders with lime legs…

  2. ok tweak that a bit. thanks….

    Vienna sausages I find those cans everywhere and for that reason I do not eat them. Never saw hot ones though. Good?

  3. Took the Porta-Bote out today to run the motor. We hadn’t put it in the water in a year. Hubby’s got to clean the carberator, it wouldn’t open up. Anyway, we caught a few bream and a handful of small bass. Only 1 worth keeping, so today was a catch and release day.
    I read an artical once about the origin of the name Sac-a lait. i’m going to research again later (and make corrections if necessary). I think it was because people said the meat was as white as the clothe sacks milk was delivered in to some “water communities” (as in NO roads water access only). MANY YEARS AGO! I’ll look into this tomorrow.

  4. Looked like a relaxing fun day. My husband loves bream. He and our daughter like them fried whole and crispy so they can eat all of it. Including the fins! UGH.

    1. I had heard long ago it was something about the “milk” the male broadcast over the eggs, but it was so far back in the archives of my brain, I could not retrieve it and didn’t want to sound like a total wacko!!! Hey, I didn’t know there was garlic Spam, LOL! And oh by the way, the jalapeno Vienna sausages are better than those with the hot sauce!!!

      1. I just got an email with another explanation. Some people talk about bringing home a “sack of fish”. (In fact, I heard the expression on the outdoor show early this morning.) When someone brought home a sack of white perch, it was called “bag of milk” because of the white color.

        OK – we’re up to four explanations now. I wonder how many there are? 😉

  5. Oh ok. Chinquapins are called shellcracker a lot of places up here.

    And crappie would probably be called walmart bags now since they sometimes come to hand like reeling in a snagged plastic bag…

    Golly it is beautiful out here today. Got to make breakfast and get fishing…

      1. That doesn’t sound good or are you only preparing your theatrical voice for the show? Hope that’s the case.

        1. I been fighting the creeping crud in the throat for two days, and don’t ya know I hacked up a fur ball almost on air. I was answering a question Don asked me and I had to excuse myself so I could cough. How embarrassing. I was mortified. I didnt’ even finish my sentence . . . . I hope that NEVER happens again.

  6. My favorite fish in the whole world…..”brim”. I can fillet a whole fried one with my thumb and gobble it down in 14 seconds (someone timed me).

    As for the “sack of milk”, Grandpa always said it is because the flesh is white as milk.

    Btw, we sell tons of the Jalapeno Vienna where I work. Bon apetit!

    1. Jalapeno Viennas are a favorite here too. I also like the bbq flavored.
      I’ll let those who like it have all the Spam. Of the very few foods I do not like, that is close to the top.

  7. Well, I couldn’t find the site I wrote about earlier, but I did come up with this. “The Cajun name for crappie or white perch, has a debated derivation, but was likely a term that developed as a corruption of Saklis, the term used by the Choctaw Indians of Bayou Lacombe, Louisiana. French inhabitants of the bayous were said to have interpreted this Indian name as “sac a lait,”associating its name with its milky white or silvery olive color.” So, I’m thinking it’s got to be the color of the meat. Fried Sac-a-lait is the best fried fish you’ll ever eat!

  8. Did you know that Bernice, OK- here on Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees is known as Crappie Capital of the World? I don’t know that it is necessarily true but it’s a little claim to fame the locals hold near and dear and are quite proud of!!! The annual fish fry is a lot of fun and still free. You can’t go anywhere these days and eat for free.

    1. Well, no we didn’t know that!! Thanks for filling us in. And you are so right . . . . I don’t think you can eat anywhere for free . . . especially fried crappie!!!

  9. Free food when is this gig ???

    I got to set up this hot blonde tonight with blu’s secret crappie stuff so she can represent at a charity tourny. Or I get to score points.

    And no she is married…….

    google clue of day… (rain disrupts gill fest)