Fishing in May

February 11, 2009 by  

Our Outdoors
Nick Simonson


Smallmouth bass, like most species will be fast action in the month of May

Smallmouth bass, like most species will be fast action in the month of May

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” This line, an eye-to-eye plea by Matthew Broderick as the title character in the 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, sums up our very existence.

For anglers, month of May moves even faster. Between graduations, weddings, family trips and dozens of other activities, it can be tough to find the time to be outdoors doing something other than lawn maintenance. Take a moment to look at your calendar and pick a weekend or a day for some time on the water. If you don’t, there is a good chance the springtime opportunities will pass you by.

Lakes heating up

For walleye anglers, May is highlight reel time. The fish are coming out of their post-spawn funk and the bite can be as fast as Luis Castillo down the first base line. Places like Devils Lake, Lake Sakakawea, Lake Oahe and reservoirs big and small across the Dakotas are popular springtime spots. Meanwhile, in Minnesota, the second weekend of the month marks the opening date for the walleye fishing season. It’s a time of renewed interest in fishing as anglers flood the waters of Mille Lacs, Lake Vermillion and 9,998 others. The bite steadily improves throughout the month, leading into a summer of precise breakline trolling, returns to sunken reefs and the familiar tap-tap of a wary walleye.

The month of May produces some of the best walleye fishing all year

The month of May produces some of the best walleye fishing all year

River of dreams


Of all the months in my fishing picture folders, May is usually the thickest. Dozens of photos, mostly those fat pre-spawn smallies from my home water, highlight the best bite of the year. Insects are hatching, crayfish become active and minnows begin to repopulate the shallows of many flows. It is not surprising that the predator fish follow suit in search of a meal or a nesting site.

Baits like the X-Rap by Rapala produce big fish, while the standard jig-and-grub combo is a constant go-to. Both smallmouth and walleye begin relating to current breaks and structure; the former in preparation to mate and the latter to forage on baitfish to replenish reserves spent in the same act. Find one such area on a nearby river this spring, cast out your go-to lure and the fishing can be phenomenal.

Full circle

Like a bluegill snapping up a pheasant tail nymph tied from the feathers of a bird taken the previous fall, May brings us full circle in the never-ending cycle. Mother Nature replenishes the cupboard for all her species and provides a jump start on the summer season. Invariably, she leads us into summer, never pausing to give an extra moment to sneak away from springtime events and duties. By the time the Bass Opener arrives and the extra five pounds of Memorial Day food and drink have been digested, summer will unofficially begin, leaving with it a feeling of bewilderment.

This sensation stems from the blur of events with the pomp of spring’s sunshine, green leaves and blue skies and the circumstance of flashing fins, big fish and even bigger smiles. This May, take a moment to stop, look around and make sure you don’t miss some of the best angling of the year…in our outdoors.


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