The Bream Box
Copyright 2005 by Dennis Dezendorf

Click thumbnails for full size photos

When a novice fisherman walks into a fishing store, there is a bewildering array of equipment, gadgets, lures, and lines that tempt us. I've been fishing all my life, but have never been able to totally disregard the colorful lures, hi-tech rods and reels, or huge tackle boxes that seem designed more to lure the fisherman than the fish.

Don't let that discourage you! There are a lot of fishermen that use all that stuff and swear by it. In my favorite tackle store, the selection of plastic worms alone takes up a wall that is 20 feet long. The aisles are stocked with buzz baits, spinners, jigs, rods, vests and all manner of fishing implements. In one corner is the stuff I usually buy—hooks, sinkers and corks. I am a pole fisherman.

The simplest way to get started fishing, and the way most of us started, is with a cane pole fishing for bream or perch. These little fish are everywhere, they are tasty little morsels and easily caught from the bank of a creek, lake or pond.

You can fish them with a minimum of equipment. Some of this equipment will serve you well for years with nearly no maintenance. It is inexpensive and durable. If you look in the huge, multilevel boxes of tournament bass fishermen, you will find this same equipment, or more likely, if you ask they will tell you it is in their bream box. The boys that fish with monster bass boats and huge motors in tournaments worth millions of dollars per year, still keep a bream box.

Click for full size popup photo So, lets look at a bream box. From the magic of digital photography, here is a picture of my box. From top to bottom, we see:

  • A collection of corks. We'll talk more about these later, but the selection is important.
  • Scissors. My wife is a nurse and I absconded with this small pair of scissors from a suture kit. It is used for cutting line.
  • Bandages. Get a hook stuck in your finger and you'll know what the bandages are for.
  • Pliers. These are handy for a variety of things, including cutting the barb off a hook when you stick one through your finger. See bandages, above.
  • Line. I like monofilament line in 20 pound test. Here in Louisiana, we fish in water that has a lot of snags. I've never caught a twenty-pound bream, but I have caught a twenty-pound log that sunk to the bottom of the pond.
  • Hooks. I like the small cricket hooks. They work just as good with shiners or worms.
  • A bag of split shot. This is used to weight the hook and bait so that it will descend into the water. Get small split shot. You can use as many on the line as you like.
  • A roll of tape. I never know what I am going to use this tape for, but the roll keeps getting smaller. This is first-aid tape scavenged from my wife's lab coat.

That is my bream box. Looking at the picture, I see that my stringer isn't there anywhere. Before spring, I'll have to find it, or buy another. A stringer is a must-have item.

Now, lets look at how these items are used. The hook, line, sinker and cork, go on the pole. At Wal-Mart or any fishing store and most lake landings and bait shops, you can find a cane pole. Some of them are made of cane, some are made of space-age materials. The ones I use now are made of fiberglass. I picked two of them up at Wal-Mart last year, for about ten dollars each.

Click for full size popup photo Rigging a cane pole is simple but there is more to it than tying the line to the end of the pole. That puts a lot of pressure on the very tip. Instead, tie the line to the pole about two feet from the end, then go toward the tip about six inches and tie a half hitch. Then go another six inches and tie a half hitch. Continue toward the tip, tying half hitches as you go. When you get to the tip of the pole, tie a couple of half hitches and snug them down tight. When a fish takes the bait and you set the hook, the shock is spread out over the whole end of the pole, rather than being concentrated at the very tip.

I like the length of the fishing line to be at least as long as the pole. Some trimming is necessary during a fishing trip and having enough line on the pole is always better than not having enough. When you have rigged your pole with line, cut the line about a foot or so past the end of the butt of the pole.

Selecting the correct hook is important. For bream, I like a size 6 long shank hook. When you first go to the store looking for hooks, you will be bewildered. There are literally hundreds of styles and types of hooks. Once you understand the numbering system, though, it is fairly simple to choose a hook. The smallest is size 22. They increase in size as the number decreases to number 1. Then, they continue increasing in size as a 1/0, then a 2/0, then a 3/0 all the way to size 20/0. When in doubt, go to a good tackle store and ask the counterman what size hook you need.

Lets talk about corks. Some fishermen don't like corks. I find that fishing for bream is a whole lot easier when using a cork. The cork suspends the hook a pre-determined distance from the bottom and presents the bait to the fish at a given depth. The cork also lets the fisherman know when the bait is being taken. Basically, if you see the cork go under water, you know a fish is dragging it down. Lift the tip of the pole smartly with a swift, short motion to set the hook in the mouth of the fish.

A cork will also tell you if your bait is presented properly, and the approximate depth of the water. If the cork isn't sitting upright in the water, then something isn't right.

Click for full size popup photo Look at the picture on the right. Here you see two corks with line, hook and sinker. Both are correctly rigged and the hook is suspended off the bottom of the bowl.

Notice that the two corks are upright. The upright cork tells the fisherman that the hook is suspended off the bottom of the pond.


Click for full size popup photo Notice that the hooks are on the bottom of the bowl and the corks are no longer suspended in an upright attitude. This tells the fisherman that his bait is directly on the bottom of the pond. So, if your cork isn't sitting upright, slide it down a little bit until it sits correctly in the water. Then at least you know the depth of the water you are fishing.

Fishing isn't hard. Millions of people fish each year all over the world. Spending a little time working on your gear in the winter months will guarantee that your equipment will be ready to go in the spring. I even learned something while doing the research for this article. I have to find my stringer. Fishing with a cane pole is probably the easiest, simplest, most economical way to fish. It is also one way to bring home a tasty meal. I love to bream fish.

Go fishing. Good luck!