Family Vacation to Door County

Technique ,

I just returned from a 4 day family vacation to Door County Wisconsin.  We lucked out as we had beautiful weather with no blow days which made it very pleasant to fish and enjoy our time there.  Our target species for the trip was salmon, steelhead, and smallmouth bass.  As a complete newby to salmon fishing I was pretty anxious to see what we could get into.

On our way up we stopped by Howie’s tackle to get some insight on how the salmon and steelhead bite was and got some advice on how to target them only using leadcore.  They gave us some great advice and some of the hot colors of spoons they had been having success with.

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My dad with the first fish of the trip

The next morning we headed out of Baileys Harbor and started fishing in about 90 feet of water heading straight out to deeper water.  It didn’t take long to get our first rip and have our first steelhead in the boat.  It came on a mauler spoon in about 120 feet of water with 120 feet of lead out. We had several other rips that morning but were only able to boat one more fish.  I was happy to get a few fish in the boat, but was definitely looking forward to heading out with Nick Nault from Salmon Depot to see how it’s done!

The next morning we headed out and had a great outing with Nick, catching a pile of nice kings and some even more impressive steelhead.  All fish came on Mauler spoons and Howie Fly’s.  Nick did a great job getting us on fish and was a lot of fun to fish with.  It was a great learning experience for a rookie and we will definitely be back for more!

My brother Sam with a beauty Steelhead

My brother Sam with a beauty Steelhead

Now for the smallmouth fishing.  All I can say about Door County for a smallmouth destination is WOW!  We had awesome fishing for both numbers and size.  We fished from Ellison Bay down to Peninsula State Park and had pretty good success on many of the humps.  Drop Shots with probe worms were the ticket as the rocks were too slimy to fish tubes.  Most of the fish were in 12-20 feet of water, and the slower the presentation the better.  Sometimes they liked it best just sitting there.

Big Smallie in the rain

Big Smallie in the rain

One thing I learned about fishing this area for smallies was that if you caught one or two nice ones on a pass, it more than likely wasn’t an accident.  There was usually something special about that particular spot, either a deep trough, more rocks, or a steeper shelf was the case many times.  Turning around and fishing it slower and more thorough made the difference – most of these spots had a dozen more fish on them that we would have never seen or caught had we just kept going around the structure.

Another browny on a Trigger X Probe Worm

Another browny on a Trigger X Probe Worm

Overall we had a great trip with family and learned a lot about fishing salmon on Lake Michigan.  There is already talk about going back next year during the same time frame.  It’s a great destination with lots to do for both fisherman and non-fisherman.

– A few for pics

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  1. Steelhead city! Those are some beauts!

    Where’d you get the red Rapala hat? Thought I’d snapped up all of those? Will be after it on future trips. Watch yer stuff!


  2. – Joel
    Believe it or not i forgot to grab a couple hats for the trip and decided to rock an old school Luhr Jensen hat I found in my brothers basement. I felt like a dork so I stole my brothers red Rapala hat. You’re not the only one hanging on to the last few…..

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