Wild Things: Let the Fun Fishing Begin

by KEVIN NAZE, [email protected], Peninsula Pulse contributor

Water temperatures are slowly climbing in the bay of Green Bay, Lake Michigan and the area’s inland lakes and rivers, triggering a more aggressive bite by many fish species. 

Most notable during the past week was an inshore movement of bass and panfish on the lakes and in Green Bay harbors and bays, but that’s not the only game in town.

Walleyes are still smacking from lower Green Bay to Door County, but the best action has now moved to the overnight hours. 

Green Bay’s yellow perch fishery reopened last weekend after a two-month spawning closure, and fish are being caught shallow. It’ll take some sorting at many locations, but the fishery’s resurgence in recent years means that those who put in the time are often rewarded with some of the finest eating in the Great Lakes.

This Saturday is the muskie opener on Green Bay. Even though most anglers release even legal-size fish, “opening day” is still special to some diehards hoping to tie in to a Fox River or lower Green Bay giant. 

Smallmouth bass are in spawning mode in the shallows, but the real giants are typically caught a bit deeper, not on beds.

It took an average size of just over 5.4 pounds per bass on the 10 allowed fish over two days to win the Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament last weekend. Guide Spencer Samplawski of Egg Harbor and his fishing partner, Lake Erie guide Paul Castellano, were the big winners, catching one pound more than the Ontario duo of Cory and Chris Johnston. 

A total of 135 teams took part. Guides Bret Alexander and Eric Haataja were seventh, Adam Neu of Sturgeon Bay and Grant Ehlenfeldt of Osceola 10th, and Brent TeKulve of Luxemburg and Tyler Shanle of New Franken were 11th.

Perch fishing is closed on Lake Michigan tributaries, and smallmouth bass fishing is catch-and-release only on the lakeside rivers. The most consistent Ahnapee and Kewaunee River biters so far are northern pike, bowfin and carp.

Lake Michigan salmon and steelhead catches are already trickling in off Door and Kewaunee counties, just two to four miles off shore. That’s a full five weeks earlier than last year’s miserable start. 

Alewives are moving in to spawn, which could even lure some trout and salmon within range of early-morning pier casters. 

Meanwhile, turkey hunters are into the last of six seven-day spring hunting periods. 

There’s been a massive mosquito hatch during the past week, so now is definitely the time to add both sunscreen and insect repellent to your list of necessary supplies for outdoor adventures.

Several adult bald eagles and two juveniles took turns feeding on the carcasses of two adult raccoons killed in a freshly cut hay field south of Forestville Tuesday afternoon. A half-dozen or more turkey vultures stood watch on the perimeter, hoping for their turn. Photo by Kevin Naze.

Plant Pollinators

Native plant sales and nurseries are growing across Wisconsin, giving people more options to buy plants that will help attract and feed birds, pollinators and other wildlife.

Native plants are species that existed in an area before European settlement. They feed insects, which are crucial to the food web, and in turn, the insects help to pollinate plants and food crops, as well as feed birds and other wildlife.

Lisa Gaumnitz, coordinator of Save Our Songbirds, said that growth in native-plant buying options is good news for declining songbird populations.

“Many of the ornamental plants around our homes come from Asia, Europe and South America, and they provide little or no insect food for Wisconsin birds, especially when compared to our native plants,” Gaumnitz said. “They’re good eye candy but a food desert, so it’s important to add some plants that expand the menu.”

The Wild Ones Green Bay Chapter is holding a pollinator plant sale for a June 3 pickup in De Pere. The order deadline is Friday. 

Learn more about the benefits of native plants for wildlife at and

Wolf Depredation

In recent weeks, the Department of Natural Resources has confirmed wolf kills on a pet dog in Waushara County, three lambs in Clark County and seven calves in Bayfield, Douglas and Portage counties. 

Wolves injured two beef steers in Langlade County, and threatened/harassed six goats and beef cattle in Douglas County. Unconfirmed wolf complaints were investigated in Ashland and Oconto counties, and coyotes were listed as killing two beef calves in Price County.

Spring is second only to the fall mating season for deer collisions on roadways. One reason is that yearling whitetails are pushed away by their mother as she prepares to give birth to new fawns. GPS tracking studies also show yearling bucks may travel miles into unfamiliar territory, looking for their new home turf. Photo by Kevin Naze.

Water Levels Update

Green Bay and Lake Michigan water levels are five inches higher than last month and are expected to rise at least three more inches by mid-June. Levels are seven inches above long-term averages, but down two inches from one year ago and 27 inches below the record monthly high, set in 2020. 

Free Fishing, Parks Entry

June 3-4 is Wisconsin’s Free Fishing Weekend and State Parks Open House Weekend. No licenses or stamps will be required to fish, but all other regulations apply. Vehicle-entry fees at state parks will be waived for those two days, too.