Road trip: Hunting, fishing season is here

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fishing rod
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

Road trip!

I love the sound of that and look forward at the beginning of the year to one or more road trips that lead me and friends to a fish or two that need caught and a pheasant or duck that needs decoyed.

And better than that, it’s great to be asked about a destination hunting or fishing trip and queried for details, suggestions and, yes, cost.

The following suggestions are easy trips to consider.

Mileages are calculated from the front door at the Farm and Dairy office in Salem, Ohio.

Cost of fuel is up to your vehicle and what is attached to the hitch, if anything.

Devils Lake

Devils Lake, North Dakota, is nothing short of a year-round honey hole.

The lake is huge and intriguing with every kind of structure imaginable and some of the very best walleye and perch one will ever find.

Come fall and early winter the ducks arrive in large flocks that most of us around here only dream about.

Devils Lake is on a major flyway, and it provides migrating Canadian flight birds a pit stop with all they need for their trip south.

Puddlers first, then divers until freeze up. It’s a 1,240-mile trip.

Do it in a day-and-a-half by stopping just northwest of Minneapolis.

The Davis Motel in the town of Devils Lake is ideal for boaters who can park right at their room door.

Easton, Maryland

Easton, Maryland, and the immediate Chesapeake Bay towns nearby, offers some dynamite sea duck hunting, something every serious waterfowl hunter ought to experience.

Old squaws and scooters are as tough as cut nails, and they decoy to nearly anything.

Area guides also feature some fast action layout trips targeting high-speed diving ducks.

The trip is an easy six-hour journey at 365 miles. Do use a guide and book for two days.

Salmon fishing is exciting and is by far the best bet for doing battle with a broad-shouldered, fresh water, heavyweight.

Great Lakes

The New York waters of Lake Ontario offer the best bet for a real monster, but don’t ignore Lake Michigan, where Great Lakes salmon fishing was spawned back in the mid-20th century.

Good salmon fishing is found out of Ludington, Michigan — be sure to try a great frozen treat downtown at the House of Flavors ice cream shop.

It’s 446 miles from here.

Your best bets to the east are three Lake Ontario ports: Wilson at 237 miles, Olcott at 243 miles and Pointe Breeze at 264 miles.

There’s lots of history and local lore to investigate at every Great Lakes shoreline town and, of course, it all comes to life in midsummer when the fish are chasing lures.

Splitting the cost four ways makes it very affordable, and an overnight, two-day salmon trip usually becomes an annual event.

Speaking of the Great Lakes and big fish, consider Lake St. Clair, a pocket-size pool between Lake Huron and Lake Erie, just north of Detroit.

This little jewel is home to the best muskie fishing most of us will ever experience.

Anglers often hook and land multiple muskies in a day, and 25-pound fish are fairly common.

Lake St. Clair fish are marked differently than muskies everywhere else.

Sharply toothed at the front and lots of nasty clear to the tail, muskies are true trophies but very seldom kept after a quick photo.

The game here is speed trolling at its best. Lures are wiggling right behind the boat, and when a big muskie grabs one it’s a real circus.

Here’s a quickie, just 250 miles down the road.

Reelfoot Lake

Did someone ask about Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee?

The sprawling and timber-filled lake was created near the Mississippi River when a strong earthquake made the depression and filled it with river water.

Its reputation for top crappie fishing is legendary, and impressive duck hunting rules the off-season.

There’s been some less than spectacular crappie spawns in recent years, but all in all it’s still a nice spring-time diversion. Watch out though — Reelfoot is shallow and absolutely filled with cypress stumps adding up to a prop eating situation for careless boaters.

Best bet here is to book a three-day trip at a lakeside cabin or resort with boat and bait included.

This must be the only place in the country where duck hunters have to beat wintering bald eagles to downed birds. No kidding. It’s an easy 652-mile trip. Gas up and go.

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.

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