Lake Michigan, or the big pond as many Wisconsinites know it as, is the No. 1 most frequently visited water in Wisconsin and it’s easy to see why. Whether by boat or onshore, a fishing pole will bring you some of the state’s best and most diverse fishing, not to mention picturesque views. With millions of fish stocked annually to keep populations healthy – there’s a good chance there will be a bite somewhere.
Green Bay a basin of Lake Michigan
Green Bay, is an inlet of northwestern Lake Michigan, U.S., along the states of Wisconsin and Michigan (Upper Peninsula). It extends southwestward for 118 miles (190 km) from the head of Big Bay de Noc (Michigan) to the mouth of the Fox River (Wisconsin) and is 23 miles (37 km) at its widest point, opposite Rock Island Passage (the main entrance to the bay), located between Rock and St. Martin islands. The bay is partially sheltered from Lake Michigan by the Garden Peninsula (northeast) and Door Peninsula (southeast). The Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan Ship Canal cuts across the Door Peninsula to provide a short route to the ports of Green Bay and Marinette, Wisconsin, and Menominee, Michigan. Another important port is Escanaba, Michigan, located on Little Bay de Noc. Entrance to the bay is difficult because of the prevalence of islands and submerged reefs and shoals. Hiawatha National Forest and Menominee State Forest (Michigan) lie along part of the northern shore. The first European to visit the bay was the French Canadian explorer Jean Nicolet, in 1634. The bay was the head of an important portage route for the fur trade between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River by way of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. In 1968 a rich deposit of manganese was discovered on the floor of the bay. In 1973 the entrance channel to the port of Green Bay was deepened to 26 feet (8 metres).
Excellent Fishing on Green Bay
A walleye population is present as a result of good recruitment and abundant forage. Anglers will find good numbers of 20-inchers with 30-inch, 10-pound fish not uncommon. The tributaries around the bay accommodate seasonal movements of many species of fish. Spawning runs for rainbow trout (steelhead) occur at different times of the year. Chinook salmon will move into the rivers and creeks in fall. Walleye will move into creeks and rivers to spawn in spring, while some return to these areas in fall and spend the winter. Smallmouth bass will congregate in the rivers during spring and early summer. Fox River walleye anglers prefer jigging over all other methods. Using light jigs, approximately 1/16- to 1/8-ounce, will avoid snags in riprap and wood structure. Bright-colored jigs in chartreuse, pink, green or white are preferred in the stained water. Tipping jigs with plastics, twisters, grubs or live bait, including nightcrawlers, leeches or minnows, will produce fish. Following the spring spawn, many walleye will move into deeper water and relate to a variety of structures. Breaks (especially rock) and reefs are the most popular areas to look for walleye during summer. Trolling the breaks and reefs will produce good numbers of fish, especially early and late in the day.
Smallmouth bass locations will vary with the seasons. Spring bass anglers will focus on shorelines, points and rock structures. At this time, sight fishing is often important. Long-lining crankbaits on planer boards should keep the lure bumping the bottom to produce bass. By late summer and fall, most smallmouth bass move to open water locations on the main lake. The Oconto River is known for holding quality steelhead during winter, spring and fall. A variety of steelhead flies will produce fish. Little Cleos, Rapalas, Rooster Tails and Mepps spinners are popular choices as well. Steelhead can also be taken on spawn sacks and minnow riggings.
Yellow perch are popular in the Green Bay area and angling from a boat, pier or shore is simple. Most anglers choose to rig a minnow, worm, crawler or crayfish tail to a hook and add enough weight to get the rig to the bottom.
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