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Loathing the Bluegill

By Bill Malec

I grew up in the middle Atlantic region, western Maryland to be exact. And that after a brief stint in upstate New York. I had an opinion on a lot of things back then and this certainly included the bluegill. After all, the blue gill was just a nuisance fish. They were small, scrawny and could be caught on a bare hooks…or so THEY said (whoever they is). What kind of person would lower himself to fish for this over-populated species that would hit a mere bare hunk of wire? Especially when there were bass, trout, and REAL fish to be caught. Even spent many days along the Potomac river catching "suckers" and thinking about Washington crossing the same river a hundred miles or so downstream. I even got into a rock-throwing contest along the same river with a friend. Uh, don't ever get into a rock-throwing contest with a baseball pitcher, but that is another story.

I forward to my years spent in Optometry school. I decided to go fishing one day in my new surroundings. I'd heard the South was big bass country and I wanted a piece of the action. I went to a nearby lake and asked the guy at 'the bait shop' what was hitting. He said the 'brim were hittin' mighty good'. Whatever a 'brim' is. I scoffed at the idea of a 'brim' and asked about a real fish, the almighty largemouth bass. "Well, they ain't hittin' too good right now," was the reply.

Bass not hitting? This is the South for God's sake. This is what I came here for and I was gonna fish for 'em! I think I landed two whole bass that long, hot day and both of them might have added up to 3 lbs.


"What the heck is this brim," I thought to myself when I returned back to my palatial bachelor apartment. I decided to get a fishing guide out and see what this brim thing was. Searching out the index. I went to the Bs…B- R- I -M. Hmm. no such thing as a B R I M. But they listed a BREAM. Hmm, "Breem," I said aloud. "Breem." Is that this Brim thing and why didn't he call it a "Breem" if it's spelled B- R -E- A- M. "Well this IS the South and THEY mispronounce everything," I thought in my best Yankee attitude. That must be it. I turned to the page the Bream was to be on and all I saw was a picture of a Bluegill. "Hmmm, this index must be mislabeled." I'd have searched the internet for more information but good ole Al hadn't invented it yet. I went to a sporting goods store I knew had a good fishing department and saw a poster of fish. I swallowed my pride and asked the guy to show me a picture of a, uh, um… 'Brim'. He pointed to the bluegill.

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! Realization hit. This Brim thing is nothing more than a stupid bluegill and what is worse I wasted time driving down here just to learn this! Boy was I disappointed.

I forward quite a few many more years. About 20 years to be exact. I now live in the South with my Southern wife and my now-Southern girls. I have become a Southerner and even learned some of the Southern graces. Fortunately I have lost most of my 'Yankeeness' (no offense, really…well maybe just a little). I learned a lot about life living down here. Number one, Southerners ain't nuthin' like I was (mis)led to believe. Oh, and number two?

Uh, bluegill, I mean BRIM down here ain't nuthin' like no bluegill I thought I knew either:

I now "lower myself" to fish for bluegill all the time.

Yup lost a lot of pre-conceived notions by living down here. Thank God. ~ Dr. Bill Malec ( Big Bad Wulff)

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