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Northern Lake Michigan Fishing Report
Northern Lake Michigan Fishing Report - compiled by David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay

Lake salmon and trout fishing is just starting: There was some effort this past week but effort has still been low. Brown trout and lake trout are being caught nearshore including from boats, piers, and shore access areas.

Manitowoc County - The brown trout bite has been slower than expected. Anglers are catching a few trolling from 1.5 to 2.5 mph in 12 to 40 feet of water. A rouge lake trout or chinook is being picked up every now and again, though few anglers have had consistent luck with these species yet. Boats are averaging 1 to 2 fish per trip so far. Fish sizes are ranging from 1 to 5 pounds with some larger fish also being occasionally caught. Top lures have been flashy medium sized spoons with some chrome and jointed stick-baits with blue or orange. Most lures are being run behind planner boards to avoid spooking the fish in the clear near shore waters. Boats are able to find surface water up to 54 degrees consistently, though anglers with temperature probes are reporting water in the mid to low 40s near the bottom in 30 feet of water. Smallmouth bass and northern pike are still being picked up on the Manitowoc, Branch, East Twin, and West Twin rivers consistently on live bait and artificial lures. There has been some success with catfish on the Manitowoc River down to the harbor on a variety of bait. Bullheads have provided consistent action in Two Rivers harbor and on the West Twin River throughout the week. River Temperatures are now in the low to mid 60 degree range.

Kewaunee County - There was very little fishing effort in this week. A few small groups have been fishing inside the Kewaunee harbor and out on the pier, and nearshore in Algoma with some limited success on both brown trout and lake trout.

Door County - There are still brown trout to be caught in Door County with anglers reporting success trolling in 5 to 15 feet of water with stick baits and spoons. Shore anglers have been using cleos and spoons at stone quarry, Murphy park, the piers in Sturgeon Bay, Egg Harbor and Baileys Harbor. A 16-pound brown was caught in the canal and a 23.31-pound brown was the winner in the weekly contest at Howie?s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay. Anglers are also catching some lake trout while out fishing for browns. Smallmouth bass are hitting all over Door County. This past week saw some impressive catches and the bass have just begun moving onto the beds so there is just a little prespawn fishing left. The Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament saw just over 1,600 fish caught totaling almost 6,600 pounds for an average of over 4.1 pounds per fish. A tournament record 8.45-pound smallmouth bass was caught on the first day, which is just a few ounces short of the 60 year Wisconsin state record of 9 pounds 1 ounce. The Saturday big bass was 7.54. There are some big fish swimming in the waters out there. The most popular spots for bass were the shallows (meaning 4 to 8 feet) in the flats of Sturgeon Bay south to Little Sturgeon Bay, but some reported success in a little deeper water as deep as 15 to 20 feet. Some bass were also being caught in Egg Harbor, Ephraim and Stone Quarry areas. On the lake side Rowley?s Bay has been excellent for smallmouth bass for both boat and shore anglers. One pair of anglers reported catching and releasing 75 smallmouths in a single day. The Bailey?s Harbor area is also producing some quality fish. A variety of baits have been working including tubes, grubs, hair jigs soft plastic jerk baits, and stick baits. There are also a variety of shore fishing opportunities throughout Door County for bass including opportunities to wade out into the water to get out a little farther. In recent years Kayakers have had success venturing out fishing for the smallmouth bass. As far as shore fishing goes, the pier is in at Little Sturgeon Bay, but the fishing pier at Potawatomi State Park has not yet been put in. Anglers have also been catching walleyes trolling crank baits down about 6 feet over 10-12 feet of water as in the lower bay. Some have been having success with a faster trolling speed of about 2mph in 15 to 18 feet of water with deep husky jerks and flicker shads. Perch opened this week, and it is recommended to fish in 15 to 30 feet of water with medium minnows and night crawlers. The northern pike are still going good in and around the Sturgeon Bay Shipping canal with suspending jerk bait and golden shiners both working well.

Brown County - Green Bay water temperatures reached as high as 66 degrees in the Lower West Shore, while most rivers were holding water between 59 and 62 degrees. Both Suamico and Geano Beach have seen walleye fishing activity increase quite a bit of over the past week. Walleye were the main fish species being targeted out of these areas. Anglers found success trolling a variety of crank baits in various colors or running crawler harnesses. Most fishermen were catching walleyes in 8-12 feet of water. Fishing pressure on the Fox River was also high this past week. Most boat anglers were targeting walleyes by casting stick baits or shads in a variety of colors; a few anglers chose to troll crawler harnesses and were also having some success. Most fishermen were fishing in about 4-15 feet of water, but some chose to fish deeper pockets of water. Walleye numbers were low during the week, but increased over the weekend. Other fish caught were Sheepshead, Catfish, and a few White Bass.

Walleye fishing on the east shore of Green Bay has picked up significantly in the past week. The majority of fishermen at Bayshore Park and Chaudoir?s Dock have reported finding fish in 10-12 feet of water by trolling crank baits 5-6 feet down; a few fishermen have been targeting walleyes in 18 feet of water using crawler harnesses. Most boats at Bayshore and Chaudoir?s have been catching between 2-5 fish walleye per person. Shore fishermen at Bayshore Park have had success throwing floating lures (such as floating stick baits) during dawn and dusk hours off of the rock pier. Shore fishing success varies by night, but some anglers have reported catching limits of walleyes. Most walleyes have been between 16-22 inches with a few fish larger than that.

Oconto County - Suckers, carp, and smallmouth are being caught on the Oconto River from the Dam at Stiles to the mouth. Bass are hitting spinners, crank baits, and soft plastics as well as live bait. The carp and suckers are hitting live bait fished close to bottom. There has been a good walleye bite from Pensaukee Landing to Oconto Park II. Most of the action is coming in 6 to 12 feet of water using crawler/harness and trolling stick baits. The color purple has been hot.

Marinette County - A few catfish are showing up at the Peshtigo Harbor, anglers are using stink bait or crawlers fished on bottom. The walleye bite has slowed some from the Peshtigo Harbor to the Menominee River, boaters are reporting a water temperature of 51 to 54 degrees. Musky fishermen were out in force on the Menominee River plying their without a lot of success. An angler told me the water is a bit cool and the river has quite a few suckers in it. Some northern pike and smallmouth are also being caught trolling from Stephenson Island to the river mouth. Anglers by the Hattie Street Dam are catching some walleye, smallmouth, and northern pike using stick baits fished in the current or soft plastics such as tubes and grubs.