Wild Things: Wisconsin For The Win

Door County is known across North America for its giant smallmouth bass, and the anglers who know how to catch them.

One of those who’s very good at it, guide Adam Rasmussen of Sturgeon Bay, topped a field of 151 pros to win the Mercury B.A.S.S. Nation Qualifier at Lake Eufaula in Alabama earlier this month.

Wisconsin’s only contestant in the tournament earned $9,728 and a berth in the 2024 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship. His three-day total of largemouth bass scaled out at 62 pounds, five ounces, and included the heaviest fish of the event, a 7-pound, 9-ounce bass.

On the stage accepting his trophy, Rasmussen said this is what all the pros shoot for.

“We want to win,” he said. “So you put your head down and work as hard as you can, and try to do it every time. There’s a lot of good anglers that fish this, and I am humbled to win it on a lake that hasn’t been very nice to me in the past.”

The walleye guide turned bass pro caught the majority of his fish the first two days by targeting hard-bottom staging areas outside of spawning pockets. Those bass were located anywhere from 5 to 15 feet of water, and he said he slowly dragged a 1/2-ounce brown jig paired with a green pumpkin Rapala CrushCity Cleanup Craw to generate bites.

“You had to keep contact with the bottom the whole time and fish it super slow,” he said. 

Alabama has been good to Rasmussen. Last year, he won his first Bassmaster Open on Wheeler Lake, edging Elite Series star Brandon Palaniuk and landing a $51,567 payday. That win qualified him for the 2024 Bassmaster Classic March 22-24 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Learn more at

The 500,000-member Bass Angler Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) encompasses Bassmaster events and media platforms, as well as the Tournament Trail (Elite Series, Open Series, B.A.S.S. Nation Qualifier Series, College Series, High School Series, Kayak Series and Team Series, among others).

Catch and Eat

Bass fishing tournaments are all about catch and release, but fishing for panfish, walleyes, whitefish, trout, salmon and pike is as much about catching and eating for many anglers.

Local fish are high in protein and contain vitamins, minerals and healthy omega-3 fats. However, fish – like many other things in our diet – might also take in pollutants from their environment and food. 

To reduce your exposure to contaminants like mercury, PCBs and PFAs, the Wisconsin Division of Public Health in conjunction with the Department of Natural Resources has come up with a “Choose Wisely” publication.

After consulting the recommendations, you may find that you do not have to change your eating habits, or you may choose to eat different types of fish or eat some species less frequently.

Want to try a new way to eat one of Door County’s most popular winter sport and year-round commercial fish species, the whitefish? Check out this fast way to cook at

For all the latest news on eating fish, check out

Last Call for Resolutions

Have an idea for a natural resources rule change that would have a statewide impact? Citizens have until Feb. 26 to submit proposed resolutions to be considered for an advisory-only vote in the online Wisconsin Conservation Congress and Department of Natural Resources spring hearings April 10-13.

The concern must be practical, achievable and reasonable, and within the mission and vision of the Conservation Congress.

Individuals can submit up to two resolutions per year. To learn how, click the submit citizen resolutions tab at

Great Lakes Photos

The DNR is accepting entries for the annual Great Waters Photo Contest and Writing Project through April 1. The best photos and writing submissions will be featured in the state’s Office of Great Waters calendar.

Eligible entries include photos and short essays, stories of poems around 200 words inspired by Lake Michigan, Lake Superior or the Mississippi River. Photo categories include people enjoying the water, cultural and historical features, natural features, and wildlife.

Learn more and find the rules and instructions at

Check the Bird Count

Numbers were still rolling in earlier this week from the 27th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which ran through Monday.

Through early Sunday, more than 400,000 bird enthusiasts from 192 countries had identified more than 7,000 species. Checklists surpassed 100,000 on both eBird and Merlin. 

See some amazing photos from around the world, and check county, state and country totals as they’re updated, at

Shed Hunting

Whitetail fanatics have been searching for shed antlers with some success, though many bucks are being seen still holding one or both sides. Most of the time the smaller antlered bucks tend to hold onto theirs longer.

Biologists say it takes several weeks for the antler base area to heal. After that, it’s possible for growth to begin.