Air and water temperatures continue to fluctuate widely on the Kewaunee/Door peninsula – something that those of us who’ve seen this spring show before are very familiar with.
A 20- to 30-degree swing in temperatures from one day to the next – or even within the same day, depending on the wind direction and proximity to the chilly waters of Lake Michigan – is certainly not out of the question. More of the same is expected for the rest of the month, with sunshine and temperatures in the 70s on some days, and others when we’ll be lucky to escape the 50s.
But it’s safe to say the trend is moving in the right direction. Summer is just a month away on the calendar, and its unofficial start – Memorial Day Weekend, one of the busiest weekends on the water each year – is even closer.
It’s no coincidence, then, that National Safe Boating Week runs May 22-28 to highlight the importance of safe operation on the water. The week unofficially begins a day earlier, May 21, with Wear Your Life Jacket at Work Day (safeboatingcampaign.com).
Boaters can share a picture of themselves wearing a life jacket at work (or home) on social media, along with the hashtag #lifejacketatwork and tag @boatingcampaign. If you don’t use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you can email a photo to [email protected].
Winners will be chosen randomly throughout the day to receive boating swag such as T-shirts, dry bags, first-aid kits, stickers and more from the Safe Boating Campaign (safeboatingcampaign.com).
Enthusiasm for Fishing on the Rise
Fishing, like other outdoor activities, clearly benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to preliminary data from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), an estimated 55 million Americans went fishing last year. The organization said about 5 million new and returning anglers – who are younger, more diverse and live in urban areas – represent 10% growth in fishing participation in 2020.
In a 2021 special report, the RBFF said the fishing participation rate rose to 18% of the U.S. population – the highest rate in more than a decade. Youth participation grew more than 50% to an estimated 13.5 million participants, and females represented 36% of total participants, an all-time high. Nearly 20 million anglers were female.
But preliminary data also identified a troubling trend among lapsed fishers: In 2020, more than 8 million anglers lapsed out of the sport. This group primarily comprises Americans aged 55 and older who cite lack of time, preference for other outdoor activities, cost, loss of interest and lack of access to waterways as the primary reasons why they lapsed.
Learn more about fishing and boating at takemefishing.org.
Sturgeon Bay Open Results
Ontario, Canada, anglers Cory and Chris Johnston topped a field of more than 140 teams to win the Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament May 14-15.
The bass-busting duo – with dozens of high-profile bass-tournament wins under their belt – trailed Door County guide Spenser Samplawski of Egg Harbor and his Iowa teammate, Kyle Steinfeldt, by nine ounces the first day, but the Johnstons rallied with the weekend’s biggest five-bass weight of 27 pounds, four ounces on the second day to earn the title.
Total payout in the event topped $100,000. First place was a new Ranger boat and Mercury motor combo valued at nearly $39,000, plus $5,000 in cash.
Jason Stangel of Two Rivers and his Minnesota teammate, John Figi, placed second with 50 pounds, 11 ounces; and Jason and Jay Przekurat were third at 50-5. Samplawski and Steinfeldt ended up fifth with 49 pounds, six ounces.
Among other area residents, Adam Rasmussen of Sturgeon Bay was part of the 17th-place team. Adam Neu of Forestville and Jimmy Doering of Sturgeon Bay placed 31st, Justin Burda of Maribel and John Burda of Luxemburg 32nd, and Jody Robillard of Brussels and Chad Delfosse of Luxemburg 34th. Matt Liebeck of Kewaunee was part of the 37th-place team.
Only one of the 1,037 fish caught couldn’t be released after weigh-in. The heaviest bass was a seven-pound, nine-ounce giant. Find all the results, photos and daily recaps at northamericanbasschallenge.com.
Lake Trout Bag Limit
A rule that would return the lake trout bag limit to five per day on Lake Michigan will head to the Natural Resources Board during its next two meetings: first as a scope statement and then for a final vote in late June.
Until it’s changed, the five-fish daily bag for lake trout is at two after an emergency rule expired. All other salmon and trout species still carry a five-fish daily bag limit.
Hot Bite on Big Lake
Lake Michigan brown trout were smacking last month, and lake trout were the early stars during the first half of May. However, anglers are now tangling with rainbow trout and chinook salmon off ports such as Sturgeon Bay and Algoma. Meanwhile, yellow perch fishing reopened this week on Green Bay, but it remains closed on the lake side of the peninsula.