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The Door County Fishing Guide


Fishing is a hugely popular sport in Door County, and with 300 miles of shoreline, a Great Lake, inland lakes, and countless bays, harbors, coves, ports, and wetlands it’s not hard to figure out why.

Fishing is a great way for people of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels to get outdoors and appreciate the significance and abundance of our natural waterways as well as gain a valuable lifelong skill.

Plus, fishing can offer a variety of experiences—from grand multi-day lake excursions to afternoons aboard a chartered fishing boat with the pros to killing an hour or two at the marina.

Here’s what you need to know before getting out onto the water and enjoying a day casting lines and communing with nature.

Where to Go Fishing

Lake Michigan

Big-water anglers can find huge, record-sized trout and salmon, including rainbow trout, chinook salmon, and brown trout as well as perch. Chinook salmon are especially common in the waters near Gills Rock, where the DNR has stocked it in the past.

Green Bay

In the Green Bay, find brown trout and walleye in the spring and an abundance of walleye in the fall. The Sturgeon Bay Canal and nearby waters are where you’ll find huge numbers of smallmouth bass.

Europe Lake

Located at the northern end of Newport State Park, Europe Lake is the state’s eastern-most lake and one of its most serene. Fishing here can yield panfish, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and walleye.

Men fish from a motor boat with a sailboat in the background

Kangaroo Lake

This lake in Baileys Harbor has panfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and walleye.

Clark Lake

This popular fishing spot near Whitefish Dunes State Park contains panfish, smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye, largemouth bass, and trout.

What to Else to Know

  • Fishing licenses: If you’re 16 years or older, you’ll need a fishing license to cast a line in Door County. Get yours ahead of time through the DNR or buy one when you're up here.

  • Bait and tackle sales: Don’t forget you’ll need food to lure in the fish. Keep an eye out for signs along the highways while you're driving.

  • Gear shops: If you’re in need of a fishing pole, fishing accessories, outdoor clothes, or other gear, visit a local sports store to get everything you need

  • Bring your own boat: If you own your own boat, there’s definitely no shortage of marinas and boat launches.

  • Or rent a boat: Whether you plan to be on the water for a few hours or a few days, there’s a boat rental provider that can get you the boat you need and give you pointers on driving, transporting, and navigating the boat.

  • Or charter one: Leave the driving and navigating to the pros and charter a boat and boat captain to take you around the water.

A man fishes from a kayak on an inland lake

Common Fish in Door County

Brook Trout
When: April
Where: Baileys Harbor & Ephraim 

Northern Pike
When: Year-Round
Where: Bay Side and Detroit Harbor 

Chinook Salmon
When: May through September
Where: Lake side and bay side

Rainbow Trout
When: Late April through August
Where: Lake Michigan Shore 

When: Year-Round
Where: Inland Lakes, Bay Side, & Lake Side

Burbot (aka Lawyer) 
When: Summer and Winter 
Where: Northern Door & Washington Island 

Brown Trout
When: March through May/Fall
Where: Lakeside & Green Bay Shoreline

Smallmouth Bass 
When: April through October
Where: Sturgeon Bay & Washington Island

When: April through June 
Where: Bay Side & Inland Lakes

When: January through March
Where: Bay Side

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