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Fishing 101: What Every Ice Fisher Visiting Sturgeon Bay Must Know

By Kenneth Reaves

Wisconsin is my home, and I learned to fish in the waters around here! Sturgeon Bay is well-known and has a special place in my heart. 

You can fish year-round, but I grew to love ice fishing. It’s very different to what I learned as a kid with my father in these waters, but I always loved that I didn’t have to put my rod and reel aside when the cold hit - I could just switch it out for an ice fishing reel

Here’s what you need to know about ice fishing if you’re visiting Sturgeon Bay in the winter. 

Types of Fishing 

There is no shortage of fish species to challenge you when fishing at Sturgeon Bay. From shore fishing at Bayview Park to ice fishing in Sturgeon Bay canal, you’ll find exciting fishing experiences around every corner. 

If you’re unsure of how to go about it, arrange a fishing experience with the Sturgeon Bay Sport Fishing Association. They’ll be able to provide you with a memorable fishing experience. From ice fishing, open water fishing, or showing you the best spots to catch the trophy fish, you’ll find the captains and guides to be exceptional and extremely knowledgeable. 

Where To Fish on Sturgeon Bay 

There’s a wide array of great fishing spots in Sturgeon Bay, where the shorelines provide a great habitat for a variety of fish. You’ll be able to fish all year round, and winter has always been my favorite time of year to fish the area. From the North of Sturgeon Bay to the lower bay of Green Bay, you’ll find active spots that should land you some great catches. 

I’ve found that the early ice fishing season can provide some of the best fishing action of the year. I’ll usually start my ice fishing in Sturgeon Bay Shipping Channel, Riley’s Bay or Little Sturgeon Bay, as they’re more protected from the cold winds. I always make my way down to Larson’s Reef for a day of ice fishing, as I love the challenge of pulling a 20-inch whitefish out of the ice. 

As the bays and lake freeze over, more fishing opportunities exist. This is when I’ll head onto the waters of Green Bay. Here I can still fish for smallmouth bass, walleye, perch and muskies. With access to Lake Michigan, you’ll be able to scout out opportunities to catch king salmon, lake trout, steelhead and brown trout. 

The lower bay of Green Bay is easy to access and is also one of the most popular spots for ice fishing in the area. Around Dyckesville, you may even be able to drive onto the ice. 

It’s worth spending some time ice fishing on Lake Michigan, as I’ve caught brown trout of around 30 inches long here. It’s an angler’s paradise with the tributaries and reefs, like Bank Reef where you can catch a wide variety of fish. 

ice fishing shanty on sturgeon bay

Fish You Can Catch On Sturgeon Bay 

Sturgeon Bay is a prime spot for smallmouth bass fishing. Here you could catch a little one weighing up to 3 pounds and 17 inches in length, to a smallmouth bass that could be 20 inches and weigh around 4 ½ pounds. 

Anglers will have plenty of opportunities along the shores to catch walleye, northern pike, steelhead, whitefish, perch, lake trout, muskies and salmon. If you’re looking to target and catch whitefish, then you’ll find the best spots to be Sand Bay and Green Bay, along the western shore. 

Best Time for Ice Fishing 

Ice fishing trips can start in the Sturgeon Bay Shipping Channel as early as  December. You’ll find anglers jigging for northern pike and perch. Green Bay is normally frozen when the temperatures drop in January. You’ll start to see pop-up ice shelters on the bay, as anglers try for walleye, northern pike, perch and whitefish. 

February is also a great time to go ice fishing, as you can catch, bluegill, perch, bass, walleye, brown trout, northern pike and perch, especially in Green Bay. You may have to lure the fish from the deep water, and using jigging raps that are tipped with minnow can lead to a successful day’s fishing. 

March is a great month if you’re ice fishing for walleye, brown trout and northern pike in Sturgeon Bay. In April, you’ll be able to start fishing the open water for the early brown trout in spring in both Sturgeon Bay and Door County. 

Places to Go 

Before you head out on the ice. For lunch or dinner, you can always pop in to Waterfront Mary’s Bar and Grill, where you can try their beer-battered shrimp and get a slice of their Cherry Pie Ala mode. 

If you need anything for your fishing trip, go to Howie’s Tackle and Archery shop. They have everything that you need to fish the variety of fish in Green Bay, as well as Lake Michigan.

There’s plenty to do in Sturgeon Bay as you wait for the bays and lake to freeze over, The winter wonderland will take your breath away. 

If you’ve planned your fishing trip in February, then you’ll be able to watch ice sculptors turn slabs of ice and snow into work of arts at the annual Fire & Ice Weekend

Conclusion 

Sturgeon Bay is a fantastic place for the avid fisherman. It’s got enough variety to be suitable for those who are new to fishing and seasoned pros. 

Ice fishing, in particular, is an exciting change from open water fishing. There’s a huge range of fish to catch, and you never know what you might pull up from beneath the ice. 

If you’re in the Sturgeon Bay area, it’s well worth taking a day (or week) to fish the bay and see some of the sights around the area too. It really is a winter wonderland. 


Kenneth Reaves has been a professional angler for over two decades and has plenty of experience fishing competitively. He gets out on the water (or ice) every chance he gets and shares his knowledge and passion over at www.perfectcaptain.com.

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