The waters of eastern Wisconsin have been garnering lots of attention these days for their spectacular smallmouth bass fishing.
First, Bassmaster ranked the Sturgeon Bay portion of Lake Michigan’s Green Bay as its No. 1 fishery for 2014. It’s on the western side of the Door County peninsula, which separates Green Bay from the rest of the lake.
Reinforcing that designation this month, a smallie weighing 8.29 pounds was caught in Green Bay.
Additionally, angler Ben Royce caught and released what could have been a state record bass in an unnamed lake in the Milwaukee area. Record is 9.1, caught in 1950. Based on measurements, Royce’s fish could have weighed 9.6 pounds.
Now here’s the rest of the story: The eastern side of that peninsula isn’t bad either. In fact, seven years ago, I experienced my best day of bass fishing ever in the shallow waters of a little bay there. Guide Dale Stroschein and I were forced to the eastern side by unrelenting westerly winds that made fishing the western side difficult and dangerous.
Since I’ve been a B.A.S.S. Senior Writer for nearly 30 years and have fished for bass all over the United States, as well as in Mexico and Canada, that’s saying something.
In Why We Fish, I write about that day in an essay entitled, appropriately enough “The Best Day.”
Here’s an excerpt:
But they also hammered spinnerbaits and wallowed all over surface baits. They struck so hard on the former that they nearly pulled the rod from my hands a couple of times.
The setting --- calm, shallow water --- and the bite reminded me of fishing for cruising redfish in Louisiana or Florida.
The smaller ones were 3 pounds, and we weighed several that checked in at 5 ½ pounds or more. Doubles were common, and we often caught three, four, or even five fish on successive casts. We didn’t keep count, but we certainly caught more than 50 quality smallmouths in just three to four hours of fishing.
Even for my veteran guide, the bite was extraordinary. He took a break from the action to call a friend and tell him about it.
As the bite finally slowed a bit, Dale wrestled a smallmouth that clobbered a topwater while I battled another on a spinnerbait. When his fish neared the boat, I grabbed the net with one hand as I clung to my rod with the other.