Turkey hunt, great fishing throughout the Midwest in May


Many in the southern part of the Midwest have already hung up their turkey vests for the year, but in the North and West, gluttons still get hunters’ hearts racing.

Open water fishing has picked up momentum across the board. Walleye in Iowa, blackmouth in Ohio and sturgeon in Minnesota are just a few examples of the wide variety 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 some options for an epic adventure at the end of the great month of May.

Ohio: Lake Erie Smallmouth

Lake Erie may be best known for walleye fishing, but in-the-know anglers place this Big Lake high on their bigmouth bass destination list. May is the time to pursue them.

Captain Bob Witt of Sea Breeze Charters said, “Smallmouth fishing gets hot in early May. We cast tube jigs on rock piles near the coast. We also use live bait. Soft crows and big swimmers bring fish on board.” If you’re looking for Smallmouth numbers, May’s Lake Erie shouldn’t disappoint.

Michigan: Two Hearted River Trout

In his short story Big Two-Hearted River, Ernest Hemingway wrote: “Nick looked down at the clear brown water, colored by the pebbly bottom, and watched the trout hang in the current, fins swaying. As he watched them, they changed position at rapid angles, only to re-engage in the fast water.”

Anglers today recreate that experience by fishing the Two-Hearted River in Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula. The river is home to numerous species of salmonids, but brown trout are the wild, local attraction. By May, anglers should be able to reach all remote stretches of the river.

South Dakota: Merriam Turkey

The beautiful white tips of a Merriam turkey tail fan are a coveted prize among hunters. Those interested in capturing one of these birds should look no further than South Dakota’s Black Hills, where Merriam numbers are strong.

The Turkey season runs through May 31 in the Black Hills. Hunters must apply for a Black Hills turkey brand, but there is no deadline to apply. For all the information you need to plan a Black Hills Merriam turkey hunt, visit the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks website.

Kentucky: Spring Squirrel

Kentucky has a short spring squirrel season, beginning in mid-May and continuing into June. With a daily limit of six and an ownership limit of 12, squirrels offer hunters the excitement of filling a game bag.

Spring squirrel hunting is fun in its own right, but the spring season offers athletes a unique opportunity to hunt squirrels and fish at the same time. Canoeing down a river that flows through public land or paddling along a public lakefront is an opportunity to see squirrels from the water. The Land Between the Lakes is a squirrel hunting destination where you can double that with a fishing trip.

Kansas: Turkeys

Kansas has got to be the best all-around hunting state in the country.

A large part of the qualification for such a bold statement comes from the excellent turkey hunting in the Sunflower State. Kansas has two subspecies of wild turkey; Easter and Rios.

The regular season lasts the entire month of May.

Hunting times are from half an hour before sunrise to sunset. Hunters can take two turkeys during the spring season. Check out all the public lots in the southeast 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 walleye fishing can be in these waters.

The zander season started on May 1st at these three lakes. The daily limit is 3. All walleye between 17 and 22 inches must be released. Only one zander larger than 22 inches may be kept per day. The rest of Iowa has a continuous walleye season.

Illinois: Coho Salmon from Lake Michigan

Cohos cruise off the coast of Illinois in May. Giving anglers the opportunity to fish for salmon from shore.

Spoons, spinners, and night crawler rigs under a bobber all produce along breakwalls and riprap. For a charter boat experience, Captain Rick Bentley operates the Windy City Salmon from Waukegan Harbor. He says, “Red and orange Jensen Dodgers and trolls remain the rig of choice for Coho on flat lines, planer boards, divers and flat riggers.”

See you on the way. …


Brandon Butler is an outdoor columnist for the News Tribune. Contact him at [email protected]


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