The bream of Louisiana

The word “bream” (pronounced “brim”) is a Southernism. Our northern friends call them by their proper species name, or they lump them all together as sunfish — which sounds altogether too sissy-like. In the South, we talk about bull bream.

Can you imagine saying “bull sunfish?”

It wouldn’t work.

“Little Miss Sunfish” would. But what red-blooded Southern male would call his pick-up-truck-driving buddy and say, “I hear the Little Miss Sunfishes are runnin’. Let’s go ketch a mess of ’em.”

But the truth being what it is, bream are in the sunfish family. And so are bruising, broad-shouldered black bass and delectable crappie (another really bad choice of name by the Yankees for the delectable fish we call sac-a-lait or white perch.) We clearly are better at picking fish names, even if we lost the “big war” in 1865.

In Louisiana, bream come in 10 flavors, not counting the oddball shadow bass of the Florida Parishes, which really isn’t a bass and really isn’t a bream.

Of the 10, two, the orangespotted sunfish and the bantam sunfish, are small — too small to clean to eat and not real common in fishermen’s catches anyway.

Another one to toss out the window, for the sake of discussion, is the flier. Shaped vaguely like a crappie but definitely a bream, it grows to a decent size, but it has a spotty distribution in Louisiana and does not make up much of our catches.

This leaves us with seven species, which are defined throughout this section.

About Jerald Horst 959 Articles
Jerald Horst is a retired Louisiana State University professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, book author and outdoorsman.