Fish Your Heart Out

To say the crystal clear waters of Lake Michigan and Green Bay that surround the peninsula are teaming with trophy small-mouth bass would be an understatement. Limestone shelves, shallow bays and abundant bottom structure attract these game fish from wide and far. This makes Door County a must-stop destination for fishermen from across the Midwest.

While these waters attract a wide variety of game fish like Salmon, Lake Trout, Walleye and Perch, the fish that brings most anglers to the county is the small-mouth bass. Their strength, vast numbers and overall bad attitude make the small-mouth bass the optimal target throughout the summer. These bronze-backs are known to be the best pound-for-pound fighting fish in freshwater. They’re easily tricked into eating bait from shore or from a boat, making them the perfect species for anglers of all ages and skill levels. Here’s a few tips on how to tackle a few of your own.

Bass fishing starts to heat up as early as mid-April…

in the southern portion of the county near Sturgeon Bay. The opportunities only get better as you go north to Washington Island, and lasts into late October. In the early Spring, the best bass fishing is wherever the water is warmest. As soon as the water temperatures begin to break into the high 50’s and low 60’s, the fishing starts to get pretty good. Bass in these colder water temps can be taken on slower moving baits such as tube jigs, ned rigs and hard-bodied jerk baits in 6-12 feet of water. Natural colors seem to work best.

As the summer rolls around and the spring weather fades, the fishing slows down a little bit as the fish move deeper. The best bite can be tracked north as water temps rise at a slower rate than they do in the southern part of the county. Bigger fish can be found on the lake side in Rowley’s Bay and Bailey’s Harbor but better numbers can be found on the Green Bay side in Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, Sister Bay and Ellison Bay. Summer fish tend to be caught most often in 8-15 feet of water.

When the weather cools off and the boat traffic dies down, the big small-mouth bass in Door County move back into the shallows to feed on larger prey. As the fish get ready for another cold winter, they tend to eat much more, just about anything in their path. Most fall season fish can be caught in 4-10 feet of water, with a better chance of getting a big one close to shore.

A great place to catch big spring and summer bass is the Mink River Estuary. This feeds directly into Rowley’s Bay. The best way to get to these fish is by quiet watercraft. If you don’t own your own kayak or canoe, we offer hourly kayak rentals at very reasonable rates about two-hundred yards away, by water, from the mouth of the river.

Crafts can be rented from 10am to 4pm, 7 days a week! Guests are more than welcome to bring their poles, tackle and bait in the kayaks and head as far back into the estuary as time allows to test their luck. We rent both one-person and two-person kayaks, all of which are “sit-on-top” boats. This layout allows for a more open, obstruction free fishing space. These boats are pretty stable and include more than enough storage for your gear.

Hopefully these tips and tricks can land you a few “smallies” during your stay in Door County. If floating isn’t your thing, there are dozens of spots to catch some fish from shore listed below*. Good luck and tight lines!

*A Few Public Fishing Piers

· Weborg Point
o Fish Creek, WI. (inside Peninsula State Park)
· Old Stone Quarry County Park
o Sturgeon Bay, WI.
· Sand Bay Pier
o Ellison Bay, WI
· Rowley’s Bay Marina
o Rowley’s Bay, WI
· Yachtworks Marina (North side only)
o Sister Bay, WI.