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Charter Fishing Guide
Fish and Tell, With JJ Malvitz, Owner of JJ’s Guide Service
Name: JJ Malvitz
Occupation: Owner of JJ’s Guide Service, a sport fishing guide service in Little Sturgeon Bay
Lives in: Little Sturgeon Bay
Claim to fame: Started his business at 18 years old
Favorite Door County activities: Fishing, of course! Other than that, JJ will use any excuse to get outdoors. “I just love being out-DOORs in Door County,” he jokes.
Q. How did you get your start at ice fishing?
A. Five generations of my family have fished in Door County waters. My great-great-grandfathers were all commercial fisherman, so there’s a rich fishing heritage in my family. I’ve been working in the sports fishing industry in Door County since I was 14, and I started my business as soon as I got my captain’s license when I was 18, which is the earliest you can get it. The business evolved with the help of my high school principal, who had a sport fishing charter and was looking to move on to new things, so I picked up where he left off and built on the business he started.
Q. Why is Door County a great place to ice-fish?
A. Everyone knows that Door County is an iconic and beautiful place; almost heaven-on-earth. But it’s truly unique to be on the ice and see how untouched and gorgeous it is from a perspective that not too many people are able to see. Not only do you get to experience world-class ice fishing, but you get a great view while you’re at it. Door County is a relatively short car-ride away for many people in the region, and we’ve got first-class amenities including great lodging and restaurants. Door County is open all year, so it’s a great excuse to load up the family and come up here for a getaway.
Q. What is ice fishing like?
A. People still have that perception of ice fishing where you sit outside on a five-gallon bucket, freeze your hands off, and don’t catch anything. It’s got a stigma of being an old guys’ sport and not very fun. But it’s actually the complete opposite. It’s evolved into a dynamic, major sport — in fact, it’s grown exponentially in the past five years. We use technology to locate the fish, and the ice houses are very comfortable, so while it can still be a simple sport, a lot has been done to improve effectiveness out on the ice.
Q. What fish are found in Door County?
A. The neat thing about Green Bay is there’s an abundance of whitefish under the ice. The experience is a lot of fun because people can catch quite a few and the fish put up a good fight, so it’s rewarding. Whitefish are a staple fish in Door County — they’re featured in the iconic fish boils. We also have a lot of walleye in Door County. We have a trophy walleye fishery, so the ones you catch here are going to be really big. You may not fill your bucket with them, but you have the opportunity to catch a trophy fish of a lifetime. Perch are also found in the waters off Door County.
Q. What can someone expect if they go on one of your expeditions?
A. Even though I am headquartered in Little Sturgeon Bay, most of the fishing activities take place on the water or ice all over Door County. I take clients of all experience levels, including kids and beginners, out to heated ice houses using a heated utility vehicle. The trips are fully guided so I supply the tackle and bait. Just show up in snow gear and warm layers, make sure you have your fishing license, and I do the rest!
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