Browns on The Bay
General Fishing Opener
With the leaving of the last vestiges of ice on Green Bay, finally, most of the bayside boat launches, including Egg Harbor are now accessible. Fish Creek and Ephraim should be ice-free by the weekend or early next week depending on the wind. Of course this opens up the possibility of targeting browns and perhaps walleyes on the bay in northern Door. Due to the lingering Spring ice, there has not been a lot of pressure from anglers on the bayside, so getting out there soon should provide some good opportunities. We went out last week and found some nice fish. The water temperatures were cool, 37-39°F, and pretty well mixed. However, if you could find fish, they seemed to be pretty aggressive and hungry. We boated these six browns on a variety of stick baits, orange & fire-tiger Rapalas and Thunderstick Jrs. The largest was 31" and about fifteen pounds but they were all fat fish. They pounded the lures in shallow water, 6-12'. In fact, the two bigger fish destroyed a couple of my Rapalas and those things ain't cheap. I followed up that outing by going out the next day with fishing and hunting bud, Jim, a snowbird just back from Florida. We started setting lines and before I got the third lure in the water, one of the boards shot backwards and a nice fish was clearing the water about 125' behind it. With Jim handling the throbbing rod and me performing some nifty net work, the fish found the floor of my boat. It was a 30", ten and a half pound brown. And we had only been on the water for about fifteen minutes! We figured, "Wow, this fishing is pretty easy!" and anticipated continued hot action picking right up where I left off the day before. Well, as your broker may have warned you "Past performance is no guarantee of future success." The same holds true for fishing. We spent the next three hours enjoying the wonderful Door County scenery and some fairly nice weather, but no more trout. We did catch one more fish however. Dragging a #13 Rapala along the rocky shoreline, one of the boards started to bounce and we initiated the process of retrieving the board and landing the fish. We assumed it would be an "eater sized" brown. I was more than a little taken aback to instead see a fat 18" smallmouth bass with the lure crossways in its mouth. Of course it is not unusual to catch bass while trolling for browns in the Spring but with the water temperatures still in the thirties, it is surprising that they are active and feeding. That might be a heads up for the bass anglers looking for some early action. The season for bass not yet being open, we immediately released the fish, giving her an opportunity to eventually drop her load of eggs. The bass season opens this Saturday, May 5th (Happy Cinco de Mayo) but it is catch and release only in the Northern Zone, of which Door County is part, until June 16th.
Speaking of the opening of the General Fishing Season, the species most impacted in Door County is walleyes. Starting just after midnight Saturday morning (or Friday night, which ever way you want to look at it), you can target marble eyes in the inland lakes, primarily Clark and Kangaroo. The size limit for walleyes on Kangaroo Lake is 18" with a bag limit of three fish. On Clark Lake, the limits are the usual 15" and five fish. I usually stay away for these spots on the opening weekend because of the number of weekend warriors, but I plan to take a few casts next week. The other big change with the opener is that you are now allowed to keep five walleyes out of Green Bay instead of only one which is the case up until Saturday. Judging from the lack of boats at the DePere dam, the spawning run in the Fox is over and those hungry fish should be back in the bay. I plan at least one outing next week to target a couple of meals of walleyes. So many fish, so little time.
With the improving weather, warmer waters and increased fish activity, it should be a very fun May. At least mostof the snow is gone.
Tight Lines, Bruce
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