Into The Outdoors 5/6/14

Well, here we are at last.  It is finally May, which is perhaps my favorite month of the whole year.  There are just so many great things about the month.  First and foremost, at least this year, is the fact that the accumulating snow is over.  For teachers and students, another school year is almost finished, which from many years in both roles, I know is extremely important.  The leaves are out, and warm days are becoming the norm.  The weather is nice, and the whole summer lies ahead of us.  But that is by no means all.
Walleye season returned to the Keystone State on May third.  These fish, the largest members of the perch family, are perhaps the best eating of all gamefish.  Their little cousins are the sauger and the yellow perch, which is a personal favorite of mine.I was first introduced to walleye fishing back in the 1970’s. At that time, most of my fishing was done in lakes, both in the United States and Canada, and I employed essentially one technique.  That was tipping a weight forward spinner, usually an Erie Dearie, with a nightcrawler, casting it out and retrieving it slowly.  The technique is nothing short of deadly.  Ironically, however, the biggest walleye I ever caught was caught on a Hot-n-Tot while trolling on Pymatuning.  It won the walleye contest, and a hefty prize check.  If you should decide to fish deep running lures for walleyes on the Allegheny River, prepare to spend some money.  Maybe it’s just me, but I get hopelessly snagged time after time.  I’d much rather lose a hook and sinker than a lure costing several dollars, especially when it occurs many times in one day.
Here’s a tip from someone who learned from experience.  Never try to lip land a walleye.  Their teeth may look to be a bit on the small side, but they are very sharp.  Also, the wounds they inflict have a puzzling tendency to get really sore, at least for me.
It’s hard to think of a way to prepare walleye filets that would not be delicious.  My personal favorite is to deep fry them, after giving them a good batter coating.  They are also great in chowders and as smoked fish.
Walleyes are wonderful.  If you’ve ever caught them, you know that.  What they lack in fight, they make up for on the table.
May is also usually the month when the panfish action really heats up.  This seems to be especially true of crappies, although it applies to yellow perch and other panfish as well.  Pymatuning is especially famous for May crappie fishing, although you can catch a nice batch in Lake Arthur or Oneida Lake as well.  My all time favorite crappie rig involves a bobber and a small fathead minnow.  This, minus the bobber, is also great for perch.  When it comes to bluegills and pumpkinseeds, I’ve always done better with worms.  Rock bass, which are found often in rivers and large streams, will hit both baits with equal gusto. 
Fishing is not the only outdoor activity in May.  Of course, there is Spring Gobbler Season.  If you enjoy watching birds, they are back in full force.  The leaves are out and some trees are in bloom.
As everyone knows, we have just been through one of the most brutal winters in recent memory.  Now, there is new life all around us.  By all means get out there and enjoy it.

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