BLOG: Small Water Kayak Fishing in Door County

Sliding my kayak into the waters of Kangaroo Lake, I was surprised by how warm it was for the end of May. It’s the first paddle of the year, but this is no ordinary trip. I was going to try something I’ve always wanted to… fishing from a kayak. I grew up kayaking and fishing but had never done them at the same time.  I threw my life jacket behind my seat, dropped my small tackle box with 10 lures between my legs and strapped my pole in under the elastic bands in front of me. Behind me, my husband, Andy, got in his kayak in the water and we headed out. It was sunny and 70 degrees with not a cloud in the sky, a perfect day for kayaking. There was about a 10mph wind which was creating small swells but nothing too serious.

After a short paddle west from the boat launch we came up on Echo Island, a small privately owned island in the middle of the lake.  The shallows surrounding the island usually have pretty good fishing. We headed north along the shoreline casting and fighting the current. Not gonna lie, kayak fishing takes some getting used to, especially if you’re “super” coordinated like me. Getting yourself lined up right, taking into account the current and wave action, making sure you don’t hook your kayak (or your friend’s), and staying steady while launching a lure all take focus. I’ll admit it, there were a few times that I almost tipped over, much to Andy’s amusement.

Once I got the hang of it, I was hooked. After exploring the lake for an hour with no luck, we paddled into a bay to get out of the waves.  We started seeing dozens of these very large, light-colored prehistoric looking fish called Alligator Garr. There were also a handful of Suckers swimming in the shallows. They were everywhere! As we went further in, Andy said the fish were probably spawning and wouldn’t be interested in biting so we decided to take pictures instead of fishing. This proved to be much more successful. Here’s some of the pictures that we captured.


We tried fishing out by the island again, and I was actually able to catch a small mouth bass! It was incredible! It wasn’t a huge fish but when you’re in a kayak, it feels like you are being dragged all over the place. Once I got it in the boat, Andy looked up the season on small mouth and found out that small mouth is catch and release only May 2 – June 19 as part of a small mouth management zone in northern WI. Did you know that there is a DNR App for your smart phones that will give you the seasons of everything in the state? Pretty handy! Anyways, I dropped the fish back into the water and we headed back to the boat launch, my mission was a success. The wind was starting to pick up and on the way back I had waves coming over the front of my boat.

We launched from the east side boat launch on North Kangaroo Lake Drive. You can access the south side of the lake from this boat launch located off Hwy 57 south of Maxwelton Braes. There are two other ways to access this large inland lake. You can park at either end of the causeway on Cty E where you can access both the north and south side. You can also access the south side of the lake on the west side of the lake by turning on West Kangaroo Lake Rd and taking the first left onto Kangaroo Lake Beach Rd. The south side is a popular destination for power boating, sailing, kayaking, stand up paddling and more.  The north side of the lake is for non-motorized crafts only to protect the surrounding habitat. On average, Kangaroo Lake is only 6’ deep with several deep spots and a few rock piles. Kangaroo Lake provides excellent fishing year-round, including stellar ice fishing as soon as the ice is safe enough to walk/drive on. Even if you don’t own a boat, you can still take advantage of the great fishing right off the causeway. The fishing is great for all ages and skill levels ranging from bobbers & worms/minnows from the causeway to skilled anglers and trolling.

In conclusion, kayak fishing is absolutely awesome and offers an alternative for those not wanting to invest in and maintain a boat. Although it takes some getting used to, and a slightly elevated sense of balance, it really is something that anyone can do!