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  • Ice Fishing The Door - Door County Wisconsin

    I live in Northern Illinois and was heading to Door County Wisconsin for some Ice fishing and Snowmobiling. In Northern Illinois, we had very little ice on the water, and no snow on the ground to speak of. About an hour after I left my wife texted me the following picture of my backyard.

    Although we received a healthy amount of snow there in Northern Illinois this day, Door County did not have enough snow for snowmobiling. But Ice fishing was certainly still on the agenda.

    Door County is a wonderful vacation destination for summer or winter. I grew up in the Chicago area and have visited “The Door” many times. It's a 75 mile long and 10 mile wide (roughly) peninsula with Green Bay to the West and Lake Michigan on the East.
    Door County is famous for fish boils, festivals, lighthouses and yes--fishing. In the summer they primarily Walleye and Salmon fish, and in the winter they fish for Whitefish and Walleye through the ice.This has been an unusual year with much less ice than normal. The Green Bay side of Door county had a good 10 to 16 inches of ice, while the Lake Michigan side had no ice at all. The Lake Michigan side has no protection from the wind, so all that rolling open water prevented any ice from forming.

    This is a picture I took on the Lake Michigan Side of Door County .

    We headed out onto the ice on one of those golf cart type ATVs that could carry 6 people with Captain JJ Malvitz, a real nice young man, who assured
    us we'd be catching some nice fish today.

    Here's our fishing guide, JJ Malvitz, driving us across the ice.

    The gang of Journalists that participated in the Ice Fishing event.

    Journalist David Currier of threatening to fall through the ice. It was a little eerie seeing this big crack in the ice. Although the crack is frozen over, you could easily kick the ice and get to open water. The crack seemingly went on for miles. So what do we do, we hop across the crack, and fish on the other side!

    They also have what they call “Shoves”, where ice is pushed by the wind and piled up on top of itself, some 6 feet tall or more in certain places. You can see some of them in the background on a few of these pictures.

    We fished inside these little ice shacks. They really were not that little. I'm 6'4” and I could stand in the center of it. There were benches to sit on two sides of the shanty, and 6 ice fishing holes located just in front of the benches.

    You can check out JJ's website here:

    They fish for Walleye first thing in the morning and in the evening. We got there a little late and fished for Whitefish which you can generally catch all day long.

    It was awesome, really awesome I'm telling you. We were fishing in 18 feet of crystal clear water. I could see my bait just off the bottom, and I could see the fish as they swam by, stopping occasionally to check out my bait. It was like fishing in a barrel of water. You could see them kinda biting the hook, and you could feel them too, but these darn things were hard to hook. With a little patience, and a proper hook set, I finally caught one, and then two, and more and more. We only kept a few, and threw most back as we really were not prepared to keep them in our hotel rooms!

    I probably fished for 2 hours and caught at least a dozen Whitefish. You would see them come through in groups of four or five, and just swim by occasionally stopping to see what all the fuss was at the end of your line. We jigged with Swedish Pimples tipped with Wax Worms. About a foot above the Swedish Pimple we had a plain treble hook tipped with two Wax Worms. Half the time the fish hit the treble hook, and the other half of the time they struck the Pimple.

    If you plan on coming up here, make sure you bring a cooler. Stupid me, I did not even bring a fillet knife. I guess I did not expect to get into so many fish. Oh well, I'll prepare better next time.
    OK, so what the heck do they do with Whitefish up here. Well, of course they have a Fish Boil. A Fish Boil is a culinary tradition that developed within Scandinavian populations located around the Upper Great Lakes area and particularly here in Door County. They simply boil potatoes, fish, and sometimes onions over an open fire until the water boils over. They add a lot of salt to the water which helps bring all the fish oil to the surface of the water, and when it boils over you get a big flash of burning oil. The fish comes out great, tender, flaky, and not fishy at all.

    When the kettle starts to boil over, they toss in a little kerosene into the flames to exaggerate the effect. Quite impressive.

    Since we could not
    do any sleigh rides or snowmobiling because of the lack of snow, we found some other cool things to do.

    Here is an antique outboard motor from the very early 1900's I saw at the Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay.

    I also went to an interesting little place called the “Hands On Art Studio”. I could not believe they left me alone with a plasma cutter with little to no instruction. I cut out a crappie out of ¼ inch plate steel. This is pretty neat, a heavy little piece of art I have on my wall as we speak. The only personal damage I did was burn a little hole in my sock. I don't even remember when it happened, I just found a hole the size of a dime that night when I pulled my socks off! Doh

    One last thing, I stopped at the White Gull Inn in Fish Creek for their famous Stuffed French Toast for Breakfast. It was great, but I have to say, that was no breakfast, that was simply a big dessert. They stuff the toast with some sort of custard and it is truly awesome. If you do not have a sweet tooth, do not order this. Get a regular breakfast, and order one to split for the table for dessert, really.

    For more information about Door County Wisconsin please visit
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. "G"'s Avatar
      "G" -
      Now I know what you have been doing while I have been working my butt off keeping the site running smooth, lmao I don't know about the boiled whitefish.....I think I will stick with deep fried crappie fillets, lol.
    1. bdorman's Avatar
      bdorman -
      I'm glad you enjoyed your trip to Door County. We go up there for a week every summer. This will be my first trip up there with fishing gear so I'm looking forward to exploring; probably shore/dock fishing since I won't have a boat.

      I guess you looked like you knew what you were doing in the art shop! Lots of great places to eat, but honestly, a fish boil is for children only; they want to see the big flame. But it's the worst way to prepare fish that I've ever tasted. They take perfectly good whitefish and boil it with potatoes and onions. It's really tasteless.
    1. Slab's Avatar
      Slab -
      Quote Originally Posted by bdorman View Post
      I guess you looked like you knew what you were doing in the art shop! Lots of great places to eat, but honestly, a fish boil is for children only; they want to see the big flame. But it's the worst way to prepare fish that I've ever tasted. They take perfectly good whitefish and boil it with potatoes and onions. It's really tasteless.
      Hanging on the the plasma cutter, keeping it from sticking to the surface as you move, was a little tricky, but I used two hands, and it worked out well.

      You might be right about boiled fish, but with all the butter I smothered the fish in, it really did taste good. They give you what looks like a "creamer" container full of melted butter to use on the fish and potatoes. I did like it a lot. Thank you for your comments.
    1. Billbob's Avatar
      Billbob -
      all the whitefish we got futher north were tooooooooo oiley to eat
    1. skeetbum's Avatar
      skeetbum -
      Sounds like a fun trip. I've traveled a bunch in my work and some before that and always enjoyed the regional changes in everyday life. Never had the Whitefish but I'm sure I could struggle through a meal of it. Those plasma cutters are a cool toy, they breeze thru 1/4" aluminum like butter. Good post.
    1. BIG Slab's Avatar
      BIG Slab -
      I love Door County. Had a great time whenever I've gone.
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