Wild Things: Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament Here

Door County’s largest bass fishing contest, the Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament (SBOBT), is underway.

Now part of the North American Bass Challenge Series, the SBOBT runs May 17-18. As of Tuesday, 143 teams had signed up.

The event not only lures hundreds of anglers to the area, it brings in thousands of dollars to area businesses for gas, bait, food, gifts and lodging.

It’s the latest in a string of bass fishing contests that often see dozens of trophies in the 5- to 7-pound-plus range being hooked, something that was nearly unheard of in the early days of tournaments decades ago.

It often takes a 5-pound-plus average just to crack the top 10, and some five-fish bags averaging more than 6 pounds per bass have been landed.

You can check out the event live at Sawyer Park, or follow along at

Meanwhile, alewives are starting to move into the Green Bay and Lake Michigan shallows for spring spawning, luring plenty of finned and feathered predators with them. Double-crested cormorants, white pelicans and gulls of many types are joining bass, walleyes, northern pike and trout in filling their bellies. 

Yellow perch season on Green Bay and its tributaries reopens May 20, but perch fishing remains closed until June 16 on Lake Michigan and its tributaries. Bass fishing is also catch and release only on lakeside tribs north of Hwy. 29 until June 15, and is closed completely (no intentional targeting) within one-quarter-mile of all islands in the Town of Washington Island until July 1. 

Muskie fishing opens May 25 on Green Bay and tributaries, and all lakeside rivers north of Hwy. 10.

Boating Safety

May 18-24 is National Safe Boating Week, and Department of Natural Resources officials are encouraging those who love being on the water – whether in a boat, canoe, kayak or personal watercraft – to brush up on their boating safety skills before heading out.

Last year, a record 28 people died in boating accidents in Wisconsin, and 47 others were injured. Operating under the influence of alcohol and failure to wear life jackets played major roles in many of the accidents. Operator inexperience, inattention, recklessness, and weather were among the other factors in the 117 reported boating crashes. 

Wisconsin has more than 600,000 registered boats, and many non-residents trailer in their rigs. Additionally, many smaller, manually propelled vessels are on the water that don’t need to be registered.

Boaters are encouraged to take an online boating safety course (, and can learn more about boating safety tips at

Benefits of Trees

Over the years, a growing body of research has proven that regular access to trees makes us happier and healthier. They can help restore our sense of calm, improve memory and attention span, enhance cognitive functioning, lower blood pressure, and reduce cortisol levels.

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, DNR foresters are sharing a few ways trees can support your mental well-being.

•Spending time in nature reduces levels of a stress hormone called cortisol, and lowers blood pressure.

•Being among the trees enhances cognitive functions such as learning, thinking and reasoning.

•Walking through green space with trees can improve memory and attention span.

More Elk Tags

The Wisconsin DNR is proposing to offer 12 elk tags this fall, with eight of them – double the previous most – going to state-licensed hunters.

Those four additional tags are for the Black River Elk Range, a new opportunity that’ll be hunted for the first time since elk were released there in 2015. 

Eight tags will be awarded for the Clam Lake Elk Range, again split between state-licensed and tribal hunters. 

Application deadline for the season, which begins Oct. 12, is May 31. The fee is $10, limited to one per person. Seventy-percent of the application fee goes to elk management, monitoring and research. Enhanced elk habitat also benefits other wildlife.

Help Amphibians

DNR wildlife staff are encouraging residents to learn more about why Wisconsin’s 19 species of frogs, toads and salamanders are so valuable. Amphibians are highly sensitive to environmental contaminants, and are both predator of insects and prey for birds and fish. 

Want more on your property? Avoid the use of insecticides, herbicides or fungicides; plant native plants and leave a 5- to 10-foot vegetative buffer along shorelines, ditches or other wet areas; and add water, even if just a bird bath.

Learn more at and

Free Fishing Weekend

Wisconsin’s second free fishing weekend of the year is set for June 1-2. No licenses or stamps will be required those days, but all other regulations apply.

New to fishing? Learn all about it and get tips at A complete list of regulations is available in print wherever licenses are sold, or online at

Ticks Are Out

Pet owners, hunters, hikers and others recreating in the outdoors should check for ticks after being in field and forest habitat, and consider the use of tick repellent on clothing.The Ice Age Trail Alliance has some solid tips and links for more information at