For most of my life, September has been the worst month of the year. For 49 years, it signified the start of another school year. Now that I’m retired, that is no longer the case, but it still bothers me a bit.

As of Sept. 22, summer, which is my favorite season of the whole year, is over. I hate to see it end. As I age, I can’t help but wonder how many, if any, more summers I will have. I know that’s a depressing thought, but it is what it is.

September is not all bad. The weather is still nice. If you like to hunt mourning doves, it’s your month. When I was in college, a good friend of mine lived on a farm, and he loved to hunt doves. In fact, it was his favorite form of the sport. He would invite me to his home in Beaver County to hunt the winged speedsters. Sometimes, after a day’s hunt, we would have enough birds for a meal. We would clean the birds, keeping only the breasts, and his mother would cook them up for us. I don’t know exactly what her recipe was, but they were delicious.

If you don’t have a sense of humor, it may not be a good idea for you to hunt doves. Every hunter I know misses more than they hit. You can go through a lot of shells on a dove outing, and you need to be able to laugh at yourself. Check out the rules and regulations before you go out.

Now, let’s take a little peek at the fishing scene. As many know, panfish are among my favorite target species. Not only are they great fun to catch, due to the fast and furious action, but they make for some truly delicious eating as well.

As the waters begin to cool, the panfish often move to the warmer shallow areas where they were so plentiful in the spring. These are the areas on which to focus your autumn efforts. In area lakes, like Arthur, Kahle, Wilhelm and Pymatuning, the catches can be truly fantastic. The action normally lasts right through the month of October, especially if the weather stays on the warm side. Since we’ve looked at baits and techniques for these tasty scrappers in the past, it’s not necessary to go over them again.

One side note though: fall is the best time of all to fish for perch in Lake Erie. Lots of perch charters are available at reasonable prices. You can also go out in your own boat. Fishing from the many piers in Erie is also really hot in the fall. If you’ve never fished Lake Erie, here is your chance. Don’t miss out.

Now, for a fish recipe, which works really well with panfish filets, although just about any fish will do. Chowder is nothing less than an American tradition, and here is a simple recipe. It’s a combination of a number of recipes I’ve seen over the years, with some little additions from yours truly. The quantities I’ll list here will produce about six servings. You can vary the amounts to suit your situation.

Start off with five medium potatoes, diced. Next, dice up six or seven baby carrots and four green onions, greens and all. Boil them until they’re tender, then add chunks of fish of your choice. When the fish is done, add about a pint of milk, two tablespoons of olive oil and about a quarter stick of butter. Then, pour in a can of whole kernel corn. Warm it back up, but be careful not to boil the milk. Salt and pepper to taste and serve with oyster crackers. This is a meal in itself. You don’t really need anything else to go with it.

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