Fishing Column: May best month to enjoy fishing
May is the perfect time to go fishing writes fisherman and sportsman Kenneth Reaves in his new column.
By Kenneth Reaves
Many people, including myself, love the month of May for many reasons—it ushers the start of summer, the blooming of flowers, and it is the perfect month to wet the line!
Anglers know that fish are more active during the warm season, which means there are more chances of catching fish! And just in case you missed it, this month also comes with significant weather changes, as well as a lot of species to catch in the different fishing spots in Chicago.
These experiences from the locals will speak about the abundance that awaits people in the waters of Chicago.
Ken “Husker” O’Malley, through Chicago Sun Times, shared his fantastic fishing experience for the past weeks:
“Fishing was decent before the warmup but really has taken off. A few bass have been seen on beds and big bass are biting. Bass are excellent on chatterbaits and lipless cranks during morning, afternoon, and evening hours. Work the baits by just ticking the top of the weeds on large weed clumps that are holding the active fish. If the bait gets hung up, rip it to create a reaction bite.”
For Ken O’Malley, on most days, bass fishing is productive from morning to evening. However, if you want to increase your chances of getting the best bass, you should go fishing during summer mornings. Make sure to start early, though, because the waters can heat up pretty fast. Around the afternoon, during the hottest hours of the day, fish swim to deeper waters to cool down.
In Braidwood Lake, the wider lake in southwestern Will County, is stocked with hybrid striped bass, blue catfish, and largemouth bass this month, too. Go fishing around 6 a.m to witness the breathtaking sunrise view!
And speaking of breathtaking views and a productive fishing experience, one can never go wrong with the Chicago River. The types of fish to catch during May are varied: steelhead rainbow and brown trout, yellow perch, chinook and coho salmon, crappie, sheepshead, carp, catfish, and more. And In the waters of Chicago Lakefront, smallmouth bass are all the rage.
All over the state of Illinois, May is a busy month for anglers, who are stocking up on bait and upgrading their fishing gears because this month marks the abundance of panfish and bluegills. These types of fish are all over the state, while stocks of shellcrackers are not as abundant as the ones that were previously mentioned.
Not only is May excellent to go fishing, but it also provides ample time for us to master the art of matching the right baits with their corresponding species. Just like many anglers quip, it’s important to “match the hatch!”
Handy fishing tips
Roaming around the waters of Illinois, here are some bait tips that I picked up along the way:
Bluegills, a species that is native to almost the entire country’s waterbody, is a great live bait for bass, especially while they are spawning. To match the hatch, look for bluegills with square-pattern bills, swim jigs, or swimbaits to lure bass.
Since May is panfishing month, it’s essential to know some tips to maximize your fishing experience this month. Savvy anglers know that crickets, crayfish, worms, and minnows are ideal baits because they are aware that alive, wiggling prey is the foolproof solution to abundant panfish action.
However, it provides no 100% guarantee in fishing, even when you are using live bait. Still, there are several factors like weather changes and water clarity that can cause panfish to ignore your bait.
The bottom line is May is the ideal time to drop a line with your angler friends or your family. As such, it also provides ample opportunity for us to improve our fishing skills. Now, go out and make the most out of May!
(Kenneth Reaves is passionate about angling! An avid angler for more than two decades, he regularly writes about fishing tips and equipment on his website, Perfect Captain. Email him at email@example.com.)
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