Many in the southern part of the Midwest have already hung up their turkey vest for the year, but up north and west, wolverines still get the heart rate up for hunters.
Open water fishing has increased across the board. Walleyes in Iowa, smallmouth in Ohio, and Sturgeon in Minnesota are just a few examples of the vast diversity of fishing opportunities the Midwest offers.
If you’re looking for a challenge this month and want to make the most of your long Memorial Day weekend, here are a few options for an epic adventure at the end of the big month of May.
Ohio: Smallmouth Lake Erie
Lake Erie may be most famous for walleye fishing, but anglers in the know place this Great Lake at the top of their list of destinations for large smallmouth bass. May is the time to go after them.
Captain Bob Witt of Sea Breeze Charters said: “Smallmouth fishing heats up in early May. We cast tube jigs into rock piles near the shoreline. We will also use live bait. The soft swishes and the big black eyes put the fish in the boat.” If you’re looking to rack up smallmouth numbers, Lake Erie in May shouldn’t disappoint.
Michigan: Two Heart River Trout
In his short story “The Great River of Two Hearts,” Ernest Hemingway wrote: “Nick looked out into the clear brown water, colored by the rocky bottom, and watched the trout stand firm in the current with fluttering fins. As he watched them, they changed positions at quick angles, only to hold their ground again in the fast water.”
Anglers today recreate this experience by fishing the Two-Hearted River in Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula. The river is home to numerous species of salmonids, but brook trout are the wild and native attraction. By May, anglers should be able to reach all remote sections of the river.
South Dakota: Merriam Turkey
The beautiful white tips of the Merriam turkey’s tail fan are a coveted prize among hunters. Those looking to catch one of these birds should look no further than the Black Hills of South Dakota, where Merriam’s numbers are strong.
Turkey season runs through May 31 in the Black Hills. Hunters must apply for a Black Hills turkey tag, but there is no deadline to do so. For all the information you need to plan a Merriam turkey hunt in the Black Hills, visit the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks website.
Kentucky: Spring Squirrels
Kentucky has a short spring squirrel season that opens in mid-May and runs through June. With a daily limit of six and a possession limit of 12, squirrels offer hunters the thrill of filling a game bag.
Spring squirrel hunting is fun on its own, but the spring season gives sportsmen a unique opportunity to hunt squirrels while fishing. Canoeing down a river that runs through public land or paddling along the shore of a public lake provides opportunities to spot squirrels from the water. The Land Between the Lakes is a squirrel hunting destination where you can double up with a fishing trip.
Kansas has to be in the argument for the best hunting state in the entire country.
A large part of the qualification for such a bold statement comes from the outstanding turkey hunting in the Sunflower State. Kansas has two subspecies of wild turkey; Orientals and Rivers.
The regular season runs through the entire month of May.
Hunting hours are from half an hour before sunrise to sunset. Hunters can bag two turkeys during the spring season. Take a look at all the public land in the southeastern corner of the state.
Iowa ‘Great Lakes’ walleye opener
Spirit Lake and East and West Okoboji Lakes are known as the “Great Lakes of Iowa”. This nickname could be due to how good the walleye fishing can be in these waters.
Walleye season opened at these three lakes on May 1. Daily limit is 3. All walleye between 17 and 22 inches must be released. Only one walleye larger than 22 inches may be kept per day. The rest of Iowa has an ongoing walleye season.
Illinois: Lake Michigan Coho Salmon
Cohos sail up the Illinois coast in May. Giving anglers the opportunity to fish for salmon from shore.
Spoons, spinners, and night crawler platforms under a bobber occur along retaining walls and riprap. For a boat charter experience, Captain Rick Bentley operates Windy City Salmon from the Waukegan Harbor. He says, “Red and orange Jensen Dodgers and crawling flies remain the go-to gear for coho salmon on flat lines, flat boards, divers, and shallow mounting gear.”
See you on the road. …
Brandon Butler is an outdoor columnist for the News Tribune. Contact him at [email protected]