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With almost 300 miles of shoreline and some of the best fishing lakes in Wisconsin, Door County is the perfect place to chase a trophy or just relax and wet a line while drinking your favorite beverage. There is no “off-season” when talking about Door County fishing. As the seasons change, so do the species of fish that I target in the waters around the Door.
Brown Trout: Open water fishing usually starts for me in mid to late April as the ice melts in Green Bay and off the Lake Michigan shoreline. Brown trout tend to be my fish of choice this time of year. I enjoy trolling the shorelines for brown trout using stick baits and spoons. Whether I bring a fish or two home for the grill that day or not, one thing is for sure, it is tough to beat the views trolling the bay side of the peninsula. The limestone bluff around Peninsula State Park and Ellison Bay are incredible and well worth the boat ride alone. Browns can be caught by casting right off the sea walls and in the harbors this time of year also, no boat needed.
Walleye: Walleye can be caught year around. Spring walleye are usually caught in Sturgeon Bay and south along the reefs and drop-offs . Live bait and crank baits are usually the tackle of choice in spring. Giant fish are caught regularly this time of year so if you want one for the wall, plan a trip then. Walleye continue to bite through the summer on cranks and crawler harnesses. As fall approaches and the water cools again, action picks up and bigger fish are caught again. When Green Bay freezes over, they can be caught using jigs, jigging raps and shiners on tip-ups.
Salmon: The fish that is “king” of the county during the summer and fall of the year is without a doubt the King or Chinook salmon. These monsters move to our waters around the middle of June and usually can be found in good numbers until mid-September. Kings are mainly caught on Lake Michigan the entire length of the county. It is hard to beat a 20-pound king salmon screaming line off a reel! I have run a salmon charter for the past seven years and thoroughly enjoy watching my clients battle these heavyweights. When fishing for kings, the acrobatic Steelhead is often caught too. These rainbow trout live their lives in the lake. When hooked, steelhead spend as much time jumping out of the water as they do in it. It takes a lot of gear and a safe boat to get at these fish so if you are interested in trying it without the big investment, book a trip with a reputable Door County charter and see if you like it as much as I do.
Bass: The biggest up-and-coming fish that calls Door County waters home is the Smallmouth bass. In fact, the 2015 Bassmaster Championship will be held in Sturgeon Bay in September! The rough limestone shorelines and reefs make perfect habitat for this structure oriented fighter. From May through September, it seems like they can be found anywhere there is a sea wall or other rocky structure. They are aggressive feeders and, when in the mood, will hit almost anything from leeches and crawlers to crank baits and soft plastics. This is the perfect fish for young anglers. If you don’t have a boat, a favorite spot in Northern Door County to bring kids fishing is the Sister Bay Marina which is usually full of Smallmouth looking to bite a crawler or leech a few feet under a bobber. It’s easy, fun, fishing. And, if the fish aren’t biting the best, the beach and ice cream shops are a short walk away!
Whitefish: As fall turns to winter and Green Bay freezes over, whitefish become one of the most targeted species. Larson’s Reef, Sand Bay and Little Sturgeon Bay are popular destinations. Once you get a feel for the technique, they are very easy fish to catch. One of the most popular baits is a gold Swedish Pimple tipped with a wax worm bounced on the bottom in 35-65 feet of water. These fish school so if you aren’t familiar with an area, check with the local bait shop and look for a cluster of ice houses in deeper water and that is usually where the whitefish are.
If you do plan to fish during your next visit, be advised that the rules and regulations in this county vary greatly depending on where you are fishing and what you are fishing for. Make sure you know them before you go so you don’t give our local conservation warden, Mike Neal, more paperwork to do. Also be sure to check local lake or ice conditions before your trip. The biggest fish in the lake isn’t worth an accident or worse.
During your next vacation to the Door, be sure to spend some time on the water. If you are a novice, there are plenty of guides and charters that can put you on the fish and show you how it is done. If you have some experience and gear, bring it along and maybe catch a fresh fish dinner. Whatever your experience level, one thing is for sure, when fishing in Wisconsin or Door County you always end up bringing something home…usually fish but always fish stories. See you on the water! <*}}}}}><
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