Midwestern Hot Spots
Door County Peninsula
Walleye; northern pike; muskie; smallmouth bass; king and coho salmon; brown trout; steelhead
Many Midwesterners know western Lake Michigan’s Door Peninsula as a vacation spot with enough parks, golf courses, and resorts to sate the most entertainment-starved family. Many of the region’s anglers also know the Door as “salmonid central” when king salmon, brown trout, and steelhead go on their annual feeding blitz. But the trophy potential is also high for walleyes, pike, and smallmouth bass-the region’s underfished species.
Former tournament angler and guide Dale Stroschein has visited many of the country’s hotspots and will pit his home water against any of them.
“Ten-pound-plus walleyes, numerous 5-pound smallmouths, pike that’ll go over 20-and hardly anyone touches the muskies in Green Bay. A couple of years ago, a guy caught one through the ice that was 62 inches. That’s a 50-pound fish.”
This is big water that can intimidate anglers used to more intimate settings. Stroschein’s advice is simple: “Use proven techniques and fish very specific structure. For example, one of our best times for big walleyes is early, even though the water is cold and the fish aren’t aggressive. You troll stickbaits along the contours where you’ve located fish. Keep your motor slow and your bait at the right depth and you have a very good chance to catch a walleye over 10 pounds.”
Sweet Spots: **Washington Island reefs, Sturgeon Bay Channel
**What’s Hot: Smithwick Rogue for walleyes
Local Advice: “Fish in low light-dawn or dusk-or in a light chop,” Stroschein says.
Prime Time: **April, May, September, and November for walleyes. May through August for bass
**Record Fish: 44-pound 15-ounce state-record chinook salmon
More Info: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 608-266-2621; www.dnr.state.wi.us