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Bassmasters magazine recently named Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, the top bass waters in the country.
Having spent over 200 days out of Sturgeon Bay over the past 20 years, I guess I’ve known what a special fishery this is. May and June are my prime times in Sturgeon Bay, which is in Door County, a well-known and popular tourist area that I would liken to Cape Cod. But, I actually like it even better. Probably, because of the thousands of smallmouth bass I’ve caught there.
With 300 miles of shoreline along Green Bay and Lake Michigan’s ultra-clear waters, it’s a kayak anglers delight. From the three bays west of Sturgeon Bay to all the bays and harbors heading the 40 miles to the tip of the peninsula, there are dozens of great places to launch. These include your more formal boat launches, kayak launches in state and community parks, along with many roads that dead-end at the water where you can easily launch your vessel. Once on the water, the beauty is breathtaking and the fishing can be spectacular. For a little later fishing, Washington Island, off the tip of the Door peninsula has its season open on July 1 each year. This May and June, 2014, I’ll have been on the water over 15 days and caught over 700 smallies, with over 50 in the 4 to 5 ½ pound range. They feed on those little “protein” bar gobies, so they are super fat. A 19” fish usually top 5 pounds. Many of your typically successful smallie presentations work. Some better than others based on water temperature. But, since 2008, when I began using the Kalin’s Lunker Grubs, my numbers have increased. I swim this “fish catching magnet”, slow and steady on a Gopher Tackle Big John’s 3/32 or 1/16 ounce Mushroom Head Jig. St. Croix 8’ medium-light spinning rods are my weapon of choice to get the super long casts needed in the gin-clear water.
A spinning reel with long-cast spool using very small diameter braid or superlilne, with a fluorocarbon leader rounds out the equipment I use. My most productive Kalin’s color and size is the Smoke Salt and Pepper in both the 4” and 5” versions, but there are a few other colors that work well. These include Smoke, Ed’s Smoke, Apple Juice and Avocado. Most of my 4,000 smallies caught and released since 2008 have come on the 4” Smoke Salt and Pepper. This presentation is so productive, that I can document only about 125 smallies on something else. Will other lures work, yes, but as well? Probably not. If you enjoy road trip kayak fishing, and love catching big smallies on waters so spectacular you’ll think you’re in a postcard, then Door County, Wisconsin is the place to head.