Planned 2010 Door County Tour

Posted by Dutchman Sunday, November 8, 2009

For my first major bicycle tour in 2010, I plan to take the ferry across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin. The SS Badger leaves from Ludington, Michigan and arrives in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, after 4 hours of steaming. I'll drive from Oxford to Ludington, park, and cross the lake with just the bike.

Once in Manitowoc, I'll head north along the shore of Lake Michigan, passing through Two Rivers and Kewaunee, staying the first night somewhere in or around Algoma. Over the next three days, I'll make a loop around Door County, before heading back down to Manitowoc on the fifth day.

I first became acquainted with Door County back in the early 70s, when I started going up to Sturgeon Bay to "snag" salmon with my father. Chinook (King) Salmon had been stocked in Lake Michigan as a predator to help reduce the alewife population that had been introduced by freighters entering the Great Lakes from the ocean. The native Lake Trout had been decimated by Sea Lampreys also brought into the lakes with freighter ballast, so they alone wouldn't keep the alewife population in check.

The salmon, when fully mature, try to return to their origin streams to spawn, much as they do on the west coast each year. However, conditions in the Great Lakes are not quite the same. There is little or no natural reproduction. But, the thousands of stocked salmon would crowd into inlets along the Wisconsin shoreline each fall, where they would die. In those days, the DNR would allow fisherman to harvest these salmon using a snagging methodology, as the salmon were not interested in any type of bait. In the early 70s, fisherman from all over Illinois and Wisconsin would crowd shoulder to shoulder in Sturgeon Bay, the ship canal, and Strawberry creek, to attempt to catch one of the 20 or 30 pound trout. They used heavy lead weighted treble hooks, which they cast out, and jerked back through the water, hoping to foul hook a salmon.

The first couple of years that we went to Sturgeon Bay, we also tried to snag salmon. Sometimes, the salmon weren't in, or the weather was bad, or your arms just got too tired of yanking that hook through the water over and over. So, we'd take drives around the Door peninsula, sightseeing, buying cherries, cheese, sausage, and apple cider at the roadside stands. On one of these trips, my father and some of his "work" buddies discovered an alternate fishery.

If you purchase some salmon spawn, from some of the fisherman that have successfully snagged a large female salmon, you could use it as bait to catch Steelheads (lake run Rainbow Trout). The trout know that the salmon are trying to enter any stream they can find from the lake. Most of the streams barely trickle into the lake through the sand dunes along the shore. The salmon batter themselves along the shoreline, sensing the inflow, but not able to find it. They drop eggs. The trout follow along behind, picking up the eggs. We found a small creek north of Sturgeon Bay and would surf fish there for the trout. We quickly learned that it was much more enjoyable to sit in a lawn chair down on the beach, watching our rod tips while the sun came up across the lake, than yanking that hook amongst the crowds. When the fish weren't biting, we'd sightsee around the peninsula, visiting the small picturesque fishing villages, attending "fish boils" and enjoying the small hometown restaurants.

Years later, the "snagging" had faded out or become illegal, but we'd still fish for the trout. Our best year, 1981, we returned with 50 trout between 8 and 13 pounds. I might add, that smoked trout is much better than smoked salmon, especially since many of the snagged salmon were on their deathbed anyway. We also starting going to the "Door" to cross-country ski and bike ride. My last time there, however, was September of 1990, when I rode in the Door County Century bike ride. I’m sure a lot has changed since then.

Below I have attached my intended 5 day route.

1 Responses to Planned 2010 Door County Tour

  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. nice route.


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I'm a middle aged divorced father living with my two sons. We like to canoe, bicycle, fish, camp, play baseball, and spend money when we want and where we want, without permission from anybody. HA!


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