Prior to our region’s spring turkey hunting season’s implementation, May was THE month for angling. With just about all our most abundant and popular fish species’ seasons open (bass and purebred musky being the lone ones closed until June, although bass can be caught and immediately released), anglers could fish for everything from walleye to trout to assorted panfish. That list also included such popular fish as pickerel, pike, tiger musky, crappie, bullhead and sunfish. So other than perhaps woodchuck hunting, all-around sportsmen and women encountered little to conflict with their fishing.
But then came the introduction of spring turkey hunting, and as our density of wild turkeys increased and spread, gradually more and more local sportsmen became attracted to that, thereby choosing it over the dedicated days of fishing they’d done in the past. Although spring turkey hunting can only be done until noon, arising well before dawn meant many sportsmen opted not to “burn” themselves out by also spending their afternoons fishing. So, for some, it became a hunt or fish situation with the former winning out.
That said, this drift from May being such a popular and effective month for fishing is actually a benefit to sportsmen who choose to fish rather than hunt, and also to those who hunt but still spend an afternoon or periodic day fishing. After all the fishing is just as good, but there will be fewer anglers on the water than occurred before the turkey hunting craze pulled so many away.