Wild Things: Green Bay Perch Fishing Heats Up

Jumbo yellow-bellies hooked off Door County

by KEVIN NAZE, [email protected]

Continuing right where it left off last fall, the yellow perch fishery in the waters of Green Bay off of Door County is producing some excellent catches.

Lance LaVine at Howie’s Tackle & Archery in Sturgeon Bay said perch fishing has been so good that many anglers in boats have been able to land 15-fish limits. Smaller numbers – but enough for a meal if you’re patient and lucky – are typically caught from shore. 

Year in and year out, some of the top areas to target summer yellow-bellies are Sturgeon Bay, Sawyer Harbor, Larson’s Reef, Riley’s Bay, Little Sturgeon Bay and the west shore of Southern Door out of Sugar Creek or Chaudoir’s Dock.

The best depths can vary from five to 15 feet in the weeds, 10-25 feet on reefs, and 20-40 feet over mud flats. Worms, night crawlers, minnows and other live baits work best, but jigs can also be effective. 

If you’re getting too many bites from gobies, get your bait up off the bottom a foot or two. Perch will easily move up in the clear water to grab your offering, but gobies are less likely to.

Smallmouth bass, rock bass and freshwater drum (sheepshead) are regular bonus catches. More infrequent, but very possible, are bites from a walleye, northern pike or catfish.

Get Tickets for Kewaunee/Door County Salmon Tournament

Anglers who purchase an entry ticket to the Kewaunee/Door County Salmon Tournament (K/D) by the end of the day on July 10 will have a chance at one of eight $100 gift certificates to be given away July 11.

Tickets – $30 for the entire July 15-24 tournament, or $20 for a one-day shot – are available at B&K Bait and Tackle at Kap’s Marina on Washington Island; Baileys 57 in Baileys Harbor; JP Express north of Carlsville; Howie’s Tackle & Archery and Greystone Castle, both in Sturgeon Bay; Algoma BP and JP Express in Algoma (a $100 winner will be combined into one draw at the two locations); and Accurate Marine & Tackle and Center Court BP, both in Kewaunee.

All tickets also include a random-draw chance for a 9.9-horsepower Yamaha outboard motor from Shipyard Island Marina. One winner will be chosen at the K/D wrap-up meeting July 26.

You can learn more about the 40th-annual tournament on the Door County Outdoors Show on WDOR, 93.9 FM, July 9 at 8:30 am. 

Elsewhere, the lakewide Salmon-A-Rama begins this weekend. Entrants may fish K/D waters and weigh trophy catches at Accurate Marine & Tackle and Howie’s Tackle & Archery.

Bill Aims at Taxes

A new bill introduced by Rep. Andrew Clyde (R) of Georgia takes aim at the most important source of conservation funding in the country.

H.R. 8167 would eliminate the excise tax on guns, ammunition and archery equipment that fund the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, known as the Pittman-Robertson Act (P-R Act). The program raises hundreds of millions of dollars annually for wildlife management, hunter education and public recreational shooting facilities.

More than 50 co-sponsors, all Republicans, signed on, including Glenn Grothman and Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin.

Clyde says his legislation would redirect unallocated lease revenue generated by onshore and offshore energy development on federal lands to fund important wildlife and hunter-education programs.

Generating funding from alternative sources – if that’s even a possibility, because a number of other programs already tap into energy leases – could mean a lost seat at the decision-making table for hunters and recreational shooters.

The bill is coming under fire from a number of gun-rights groups, including the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). A spokesperson for the NSSF said it was a terribly misguided piece of legislation and that the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is the envy of the world because of the investments made by firearm and ammunition manufacturers.

The P-R Act has been in place since 1937 and is used by state wildlife agencies as the primary source of funding for wildlife management and habitat improvements on public land.

Summer Scouting

This lone wild turkey hen was seen hunting for insects in an overgrown orchard over the Fourth of July weekend. No poults were seen, meaning this was likely a hen that either wasn’t bred or was taking a short break from her second attempt at hatching eggs. Photo by Kevin Naze.

Summer’s a great time to scout whitetails from a distance, but there’s no guarantee that the bucks you see now will be in the same spot come the archery and crossbow hunting seasons. Still, with deer less pressured and a strong need to pack on pounds heading into the fall, summer offers the opportunity to at least get an idea of what’s out there. 

Bucks’ velvet-covered antlers are growing fast, and the animals will typically be traveling in bachelor groups. Now through September is the only time you’ll see so many wild bucks grouped together. 

Meanwhile, broods of wild turkeys are active. The young poults can fly up to safe roosting branches within two weeks of being born. However, high numbers of nest raiders such as raccoons, opossums, skunks, foxes and coyotes mean you may still find a hen sitting on eggs after her first or second attempt failed.

Weekly Water Levels

As of July 1, Lake Michigan water levels were up an inch from early June, but down six inches from last summer. Lake levels were still 41 inches above the record monthly low, set in 1964, but 25 inches below the record high in July 2020.