Wild Things: Spring Fishing Heats Up as Air, Water Temperatures Rise

High winds delay bass tourney opener

by KEVIN NAZE, [email protected]

Gusty south winds Monday pushed back the two-day Sturgeon Bay Bass Tournament – the first of two major bass-fishing contests in Door County this week – to a Tuesday start.

Tournament director Gary Nault said the event, which featured a $10,000 first-place prize, would be using a weigh-on-the-water format again this year, but new for ’22, the scales were set to read in pounds and ounces to lock in faster than last year’s hundredths-of-a-pound measurements. 

The event was expected to wrap up Wednesday. Find out how the teams fared at

Next up is the 32nd Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament, which is part of the North American Bass Challenge. It’s scheduled for this Friday and Saturday, with 3 pm weigh-ins daily at Sawyer Park. There’s a new, much longer web link, but the old one will still get you there:

Fishing action heated up during the past week as more sunshine and warmer air finally nudged water temperatures higher in the nearshore shallows where bass congregate to spawn. Smallmouths have been hammering hair jigs, tube jigs and creature baits of many types, along with spinnerbaits, spinners, jerk baits and crankbaits. 

Those who know where to look have also been tying into walleyes jigging reefs or trolling shorelines. Some bonus northern pike are also being caught, along with an occasional jumbo perch. The perch season is currently closed on Green Bay waters, reopening May 20. It’s also closed on Lake Michigan, reopening June 16. 

Looking ahead, the muskellunge season opens on the bay May 28, and Wisconsin’s annual Free Fishing Weekend is set for June 4-5. That weekend, all state public waters are open to residents and nonresidents to fish without a license or trout or salmon stamp. All other fishing regulations apply.

A pair of sandhill cranes danced in a bonding display last week near Algoma. Researchers say they don’t stop dancing after courtship either: Parents educate their chicks by dancing with them for the entire first year. Photo by Kevin Naze.

A Wild Time Afield

We’re into the fourth of six spring wild turkey hunting periods. Some hens have started to nest, but others are still hanging in harems with one or more toms.

Canada geese broods have begun to hatch, and ducks won’t be far behind. The same is true for cottontail rabbits, raccoons, fox, coyotes and gray, fox and red squirrels. The first whitetail fawns have already been born, with many more expected in the next week or two. 

Remember: Whether it’s fawns, bunnies or other baby wildlife, they’re almost always best left in the wild. If you find injured wildlife, however – or a baby animal whose mother has been killed (such as by a car, truck, lawn mower or farm equipment) – contact the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary for advice at 920.391.3685. You may not possess wildlife without a wildlife rehabilitator license, but you may transport the bird or animal to the sanctuary. 

Daylight continues to increase and will reach 15 hours next Wednesday. Sunrise is not long after 5 am now, and sunset is just past 8 pm.

Meanwhile, if it’s clear on Sunday night, a full lunar eclipse will be visible starting about an hour after sunset and should peak between 10:15 pm and 10:45 pm.

Migration News

Area birders have seen a color explosion this week as more Baltimore orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, hummingbirds and other migrants arrive. You can report your observations and track what others are seeing at

Meanwhile, monarch butterflies are also working their way north. Learn about the generations that spark this amazing annual migration at

Comment on Remedial Action Plan Draft

Members of the public may comment until June 6 on a draft of the Lower Green Bay and Fox River Area of Concern Remedial Action Plan, which is available for review at

The draft describes the progress made on important actions for reaching pollution-cleanup and restoration targets, and it sets milestones for the continued work ahead.

Great Lakes Meetings

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission’s State of Lake Michigan meeting was held virtually this year, and the presentations are now available for public viewing. Check out the interesting discussions on the lake’s food web and much more at

Apply for an Elk Tag

Anyone who’s interested in a rare chance at hunting elk in Wisconsin may apply for a tag through May 31. In addition, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is raffling one tag. Raffle tickets are $10 each. 

Conservation Congress

The annual meeting of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress will be held this weekend at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells. Learn more at

Natural Resources Board

The state Natural Resources Board is scheduled to meet May 24-25 in Madison. The agenda had not been posted at as of early May 10, but it should be by now. 

Weekly Water Levels

As of May 6, Lake Michigan water levels were five inches higher than they were a month ago, but down nine inches from a year ago and 25 inches below the monthly record set in May 2020.