Combine a collegiate science-based teaching career with a lifelong love of bream fishing and the natural outcome is you end up with the nickname, “Dr. Bream.” This time of year, “Dr. Bream” has a good prescription for you — chase bluegills on some Ouachita River lakes like the De Loutre Basin and Hamilton Lake.
“This is the time to do it,” says retired botany professor Ray Jones of Monroe.
The De Loutre Basin and Hamilton Lake are both located across the river from each other just south of Sterlington, where there is an excellent Corps landing which provides easy access.
“I have two favorite ways to look for big bream this time of year in both lakes, “ says Jones. “My favorite way to find bream is to drop shot for them much like bass fishermen go after bass. I put a weight on the bottom of my line, then tie on a good weedless bream hook about 18 inches above the weight and bait it with a cricket or worm. That way if you are in three feet of water or 10 feet of water, you still have the bait right in the strike zone for bream.”
Bream relate to the bottom in the river lakes unless they are on the shallow beds. This technique is especially good for staying on the bream when you are near channels in the river lakes. No matter how deep the water, your bait is right there 18 inches from the bottom. Once you locate the fish and stay in the same depth water all the time, you can switch to a traditional cork rig if you prefer, Jones says.
“My second favorite way to find them when the are on the beds is to take a fly rod and fish a popping bug. You can cover a lot of territory quickly that way,” he says. “Once you locate them, you can stop and switch to the traditional cork rig again and catch plenty of fish.”
Jones fishes crickets, nightcrawlers and catalpa worms when he can find them. When the fish get out in the stumps, he will often fish with a small black hair jig tipped with a crappie bite. Both these areas are similar, but there are some differences. The basin is an extremely stumpy area and is fed by Bayou De Loutre and water that backs in from the river. Hamilton is more open in the middle and is fed only by water that backs in from the Ouachita River. There is also a small boat ramp on the East side of the lake.