Although April ushers in the initial yearís first open-water fishing via the trout season, May is generally seen as the hardcore beginning for fishing in our region. With walleye, pike, pickerel and tiger musky season opening on Saturday, May 2, the potentials and opportunities to catch fish greatly expand. These angling opps, in conjunction with spring bullhead and catch-and-release bass fishing, truly usher in the yearís first all-around fishing for many area anglers.
The Chenango and Unadilla Rivers, as well as the other major Susquehanna tributaries, offer wonderful opportunities to catch a variety of fish, not the least of which are walleye, considered by many to be the tastiest of our freshwater fishes. Although not a particularly active fighter on the line, a decent-size walleye can place some serious stress on your light spinning rod, given half a chance.
For the most part, walleye are school fish that prefer deep shaded pools, even better if the pool has some submerged cover such as old logs or bankside root systems. Catch one and thereís a good chance youíll connect with at least another thatís sharing the pool. Walleye normally hug close to the bottom, so keep your bait or lures just off the bottom for best results. Being a large member of the perch family, walleye arenít overly particular with what they eat, preferring small prey fish, crayfish, leeches and night crawlers.
There was a time when you had to travel north to the Adirondack lakes and rivers, or Canada or New England, if you sought to fish for northern pike. No more. Following a fish-rearing pondís dam washing out half a century ago on the old Rogers Game Farm in Sherburne, pike fry escaped into the Chenango River. Thanks to abundant prey and small rough fish, the small pike thrived and multiplied. Today pike are found throughout the Chenango and the Susquehanna rivers and are steadily spreading in the other main branch tributaries as well. They are now even found in the waters from Earlville upstream to Randallsville, once considered primarily trout water.