STURGEON BAY – A very large, smallmouth bass, caught last year in Door County, has caught the attention of Bassmaster Magazine.
The shoreline from Little Sturgeon Bay to Fish Creek took the top spot on the list of 100 best bass lakes in the country.
It was the first day of the 2013 Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament.
“It was actually caught right on the shoreline over there,” said JJ Malvitz, Stugeon Bay Open Bass Tournament.
Tournament official JJ Malvitz remembers it well.
“The fish came down, and the guy said he had a really big one. When we pulled it out to check, let me tell you, it was one of the biggest smallmouths I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Malvitz.
At nearly 8 1/2 pounds, Tim Schneider’s fish didn’t win the tournament, but it got the attention of Bassmaster Magazine, putting Sturgeon Bay to the top of the list of America’s best bass lakes.
“We’ve had our eye on Sturgeon Bay for the last couple years. And man, it has been producing some absolutely incredible fish,” said James Hall, Bassmaster Editor.
James Hall surveyed DNR agencies, guides, and fishermen. More than 6,000 people took part in the project.
So is there science behind the survey? Or is this just another fish story. We asked the Department of Natural Resources in Sturgeon Bay about the smallmouth bass population.
“My reaction is, of course it’s ranked number one. But of course, I’m a little biased,” said David Boyarski, DNR Fisheries Supervisor.
Fisheries supervisor David Boyarski says the bay provides good habitat for the fish.
“At five-years-old, twenty years ago, a smallmouth bass was about 12 inches on average. Today, that fish is almost 15 inches on average. So quite a bit of increase in growth,” said Boyarski.
At Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay, the bass survey was the hot topic.
“This is going to help that much more. Being centrally-located right in Sturgeon Bay, when the number one ranking was, it’s really going to boost our business,” said Lance Lavine, Howie’s Tackle.
“Many anglers who fish up here know the potential and just the recognition from B.A.S.S. has really really put Door County, more specifically Sturgeon Bay on the map,” said Malvitz.
Bassmaster surveyed almost 400 hot spots.
In Wisconsin, Lower Green Bay placed 31st.
The lower Mississippi River was 35th, on the Lake Superior shoreline, Chequamegon Bay came in at 84th.