Most people beat shallow weedy or stumpy shorelines to bag bluegills. However, for really big fish, head offshore. Just like largemouths, big bull bream drop into the deep water of Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Texas-Louisiana line in summer. Look for these pugnacious creatures with bad attitudes around ledges, grassy humps or structure in 10 to 25 feet of water. Use an ultralight rod and four- to six-pound-test and a sinker just heavy enough to keep the rig on the bottom. About 18 to 36 inches above the sinker, tie on a long-shanked bream hook on a hanging loop. Use several hooks to test multiple baits, like nightcrawler chunks or crickets. Vertically bounce the rig off the bottom. Along sloping shorelines, attach a bobber to light line, but don’t snap it. Allow line to slip through the snap on the bobber. Pinch on a split-shot about 18 inches above the hook. The sinker pulls the bait to the bottom. Gently yanking on the line lifts the hook, allowing you to move the float a few feet and drop it back to the bottom. With this rig, you can follow the bottom contour whatever the depth. The towns of Hemphill, Tex., and Many and Leesville, La., provide access to Toledo Bend and nearby accommodations and restaurants. Contact: Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Inland Fisheries Division (225-765-2330).
Toledo Bend Reservoir