Whether the lake has ice or no ice, Door County is one of the top places in the Midwest to find walleye, bass, brown trout, northern pike, lake trout, perch, and salmon. Now that spring is creeping up on the calendar, the open season for many varieties of fish is set to arrive. Brush up on your fishing facts for the 2019 fishing season and enjoy all that the waters of Lake Michigan and Door County have to offer.
What Can I Catch?
Brown trout fishing is at its best February through April, followed by Lake Trout fishing peaking in May. Near the end of May, the salmon begin to bite. Rainbow Trout are running the Ahnapee River and other area tributaries for the spring spawning run. Smelt can sometimes be found after a warm spring rain.
Anglers find bountiful Salmon and Trout, including the prized King Salmon. Chinook, Steelhead, and Brown Trout are also out in force. The Chinook Salmon have grown a little larger and by the end of August are getting ready to enter the streams to spawn.
Fall anglers can experience some great near-shore fishing with large Chinooks and Brown Trout. Kings and Steelhead begin to move closer with the warmer water and can be caught directly off-shore.
Ice-fish for Trout (Rainbows and Browns) and Pike on the Ahnapee River or venture out on the ice on the bay for Whitefish, Trophy Walleye, Northern, and Trout.
New to Ice Fishing?
In just the past few years, ice fishing has added to the winter appeal of Door County. Whether you need a charter service to set you up out on the ice or want to launch your own boat onto the frozen water, Door County can be your year-round fishing destination.
Where Should I Fish?
The Waters of Green Bay
The calmer waters of Green Bay offer a good harvest of brown trout and walleye in the spring and even more walleye in the fall. The Sturgeon Bay Canal and surrounding waters into Green Bay are where Smallmouth Bass have large numbers. Those waters hosted the Bassmasters Angler of the Year Championship in 2015.
The Lakeside on Lake Michigan
Launching into the lake water on the east side of the peninsula, you can expect to find record size Trout and Salmon. Gills Rock has frequently been the site of Chinook Salmon stocking by the Department of Natural Resources, and although salmon season doesn’t end, the open season for lake trout is May 6–September 30.
At many of the county’s inland lakes, including Clark Lake, Europe Lake, and Kangaroo Lake, you will find panfish such as bluegill and perch. The calmer inland waters are some of the best fishing lakes in Wisconsin and allow anglers to fish from vessels as simple as kayaks.
Don’t Forget Your License
Most bait shops and fishing charters sell fishing licenses, which are required for all Wisconsin residents and out-of-state visitors over the age of 16. Depending on resident status and the license duration, a license can cost anywhere between $8–65. The state offers family licenses as well as multi-day licenses for anglers on a long weekend.
April 25–28, 2019
The Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament is put on by the Baileys Harbor Community Association. Tickets on sale from April 1–19. There is more than $7,000 in prizes to be won and tickets are only $25. The first-place fish wins a $1,500 prize package, including $800 cash and a Door County vacation package.
May 16–19, 2019 & September 6–8, 2019
The Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament (SBOBT) holds two tournaments throughout the year, hosted from Lake Michigan's beautiful Sturgeon Bay. The annual spring tournament, our biggest event, is always the weekend after Mother's Day while our fall tournament is the weekend after Labor Day.
June 1–2, 2019
Free fishing on all state lakes and streams; licenses are not required. Free fishing clinics offered at many state parks and other locations for all ages. Bag limits and size restrictions apply.
July 20–28, 2019
The K/D Salmon Tournament is an amateur sport-fishing tournament that runs for nine consecutive days each summer. Between 2,500 and 3,000 contestants participate annually, and about $50,000 in cash and prizes is awarded.