All the bream you care to eat...Apr 12, 2002 Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line You should follow your local fish & game wildlife authority rules about catching and eating gamefish.
In order to come home with a stringer or creel full of bluegill, readear, pumpkinseeds or other panfish, you need to remember that hook size matters. I prefer a long shanked #6 hook over bigger hooks. The other thing is to watch what type of bait you are using. The spring of the year, fish are hungry and getting ready to spawn. So, red wigglers, night crawlers, meal worms, helgramites and even fresh water shrimp are tasty offerings. The absolute black gold for panfish is a floating cricket. I caught 40 bluegill in 2 hours on Cordell Hull lake using nothing but floating crickets. I generally fish from the bank using hook, 1 or 2 split shot sinkers, and a big red and white floater. I have caught crappie using crickets also, but that is rare.
My other non-living bait technique which works for red eye, bluegill, crappie, and even smallmouth bass is floating a fly. This involves rigging a light guage fishing line 6 to 8 # test with a clear plastic bubble floater, narrow end toward the pole, 18 to 20" of 6# invisible monofilment line "blue or violet" in color, and some sort of nymph or wooly booger type fly with a medium size hook. The retrive technique is what catches fish. Cast your fly, let it sit on the water or drift down the river, you might catch a trout. Count to 5 slowly, then crank your reel slowly 3 or 4 turns, then count to 3 slowly, then jiggle your offering. Panfish will hit and run toward deeper water, watch your bobber's movement, and get ready to set your hook. This technique has provided hours of excitement for me and my girls. Bluegills will go for this offering when nothing else works. When a smallmouth bass hits this, the excitement is intense, and sometimes, because of the small hook, the fish gets away, but when we land one, it is usually a keeper. My daughter, Leslie has been the only one in our family to successfully catch a crappie using this rig, but the entire group, two families, was jumping up and down over one crappie. Imagine that!
With a very sharp filet knife, one can get "silver dollar" size fish nuggets from bluegills. I do not recommend this technique because of the tremendous waste of fish not consumed. I prefer the old fashioned method of bluegill cleaning. Cut the heads off the fish just past the gills. On a filet board, either use a sharp knife and scale the fish, or use a fish scaling tool. I prefer a knife. Then, split the fish from the belly to the anus and remove the internal organs. If you are not squeamish, by this stage, you can inspect the contents of the gullet. This will give you a better idea of what the fish are eating if you are going fishing the next day. I usually skip that part. I keep the fins intact, they are helpful in removing bones later.
Southern fried panfish is ideal. There are many recipes, but this is my favorite. First heat a deep fryer to a very hot temperature, the oil will sizzle if a tiny droplet of water hits it. Sorry, no degrees here. Then in a bowl combine 2 eggs and 1 cup of milk. In a flatter dish, put 1 cup of cornmeal, 1/2 cup of flour and any seasonings you like such as salt, pepper, lemon seasoning, garlic.
Dip the fish in the milk mixture and then dredge in the cornmeal mixture. Make sure to get cornmeal inside the cavity. Drop each piece into the hot oil. Cooking takes only a few minutes. When the batter becomes golden brown, take the fish out and drain on paper towels or a cake rack. This is not good for counting fat grams.
Grilling panfish requires a nonstick grilling rack made especially for fish. First marinate your fish filets in seasonings of your preference in the fridge for 3 - 4 hours. I like lemon juice, black pepper and salt. Then Make some rice pilaf and grill the fish and some garden veggies in your rack. Be sure to spray the rack with non-stick vegetable oil spray. Again, cooking time is short. You know the fish is done when the meat is very white and flakes with a fork.
Thats about all I know about panfish in a nutshell. Fun to catch, fun to eat. Great family bonding has occurred on our fishing expeditions.
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