Lyle Soileau nosed his party barge into a little cove on the Texas side of Toledo Bend and cut the motor while his wife Lynn eased an anchor into the water. In front of the boat, the bottom of the lake seemed to glow from the bare sand.

But the bottom was pockmarked with little indentations. And those little holes is why the Soileaus were there.

"If you find chicken pocks, you'll find the bream," Lyle Soileau said.

He and his wife proved that by quickly snatching several feisty bream into the boat.

The number of fish in the ice chest quickly grew to more than a dozen before they had to move on, but by 11 a.m. the pair — with some help from the author — hunted and pecked up enough bream to provide a good fry.

"You missed the big spawn by about three weeks," Lyle Soileau said. "We were catching big fish, and a lot of them."

Soileau said the early onset of summer temperatures brought fish to the banks earlier than normal this year (usually, June is the time to find beds of spawning bream all over the lake).

Combine that with the impact of a newly filled reservoir, and Soileau said a lot of folks thought bream didn't even spawn.

"The lake was so low last year that they had spawn in different places, and when the water came up this year they went right back to those same spots (as last year)," he said. "They spawned, but they were in deeper water."

That said, we proved over our five-hour foray that plenty of fish could still be caught along the banks.

However, don't be afraid to park farther out and work baits through deeper water. We caught a number of fish in water over 5 feet deep. And they were generally heftier versions of what was up tight to the banks.

The key was crickets. And Soileau believes in drowning them in pairs.

"You've got to use two crickets (on each hook)," he said. "The bigger the bait, the bigger the fish. When you use two crickets, the little fish will peck at it, but before they can get in their mouths bigger fish will come take it away."

The Soileaus also forgo the normal bream rig — you know, a cricket dangling beneath a cork. Instead, they use drop-shot rigs.

"We started fishing drop shots for white perch, and we thought, we should try them on bream," Lynn Soileau said. "And it works. I wasn't fishing a drop shot and he was, and I wasn't catching fish and he was."

The rig, which is anchored by a 3/16-ounce egg sinker, allows long casts. And that, in turn, allows the angling couple to cover more water without repositioning their boat.

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