Door County’s Baileys Harbor

Baileys  Harbor, is a premier fishing port on the Lake Michigan side of the Peninsula….

Some day when the fisher of men calls your number, consider yourself  fortunate if you’re granted your last wish to fish just one more time.  And if and when the opportunity presents itself, you just might want to make that last cast in the waters off the Door County Peninsula in northeastern Wisconsin. As more than one Great Lakes Salmon fisherman has commented, the Door County fishery can make you feel as if you have gone to fishing heaven.

Baileys  harbor is usually the first spot offering open water brown trout trolling….. Fishing is usually underway by mid-March, and it’s not unheard of to be trolling by February 20th of the year. Brown trout action is consistent at Baileys Harbor, often right through the summer if the water doesn’t get too warm.

In the Spring, try trolling  with great lakes trolling flies with planer boards right along the shoreline….. Work either side of the shallow bar that extends out from the west shore south of the harbor entrance. Another good area to troll is from the Yacht Club pier on the n/e side of the harbor down to the shallow rocky point marking the east side of the harbor entrance…..Troll long-lines with Countdown Rapalas in the spring, or use planer boards to keep from spooking browns in the clear, shallow water. At times, brook trout are also taken in spring while trolling the same areas. If fishing pressure is to heavy, try trolling the 20′-30′ water in mid-harbor using lead lines and downriggers, or deep diving lures.

In summer, try trolling for Brown trout in the 20′ depths inside the harbor, keeping in mind that the  Brown’s may hit only a few feet below the surface if the water is cool. Spoons are the ticket during this time of year. Be sure to use side planers and  planer boards working multiple lines in mid-depth water. Great lakes trolling flies are extremely effective with lead lines as well.

Bailey’s harbor is also a productive king & Coho salmon port in mid to late summer. Trolling outside the marker buoys  in the 30-60 ft. range is best. By moving even deeper in the 100 ft. to bottom range , Lake Trout can be taken using spoons and trolling flies, although most trollers concentrate on salmon.

In the fall, both trout and salmon move into shallower water inside the harbor where they can sometimes be seen porpoising on the surface.  This is the time to use fresh spawn on the bottom, as the fish are less likely to hit fast moving lures. Wading and fishing off piers with spawn is a great way to pick up some rainbow trout late into October and November.

After fishing for salmon for several years up in the Door, I have learned that  the best way to be sure you have a successful trip, is to ask your area bait shops where the most productive spots are, and what the fish have been hitting. As with all fresh water fishing, one method can be good one day, and change the next day. Experimentation is always recommended! Always remember that  “The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”

Thanks for Looking…..Good Luck!

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