Sep 10, 2014

Friendly Algoma- A Fishing Hot Spot

Whether you come for the day or the week, you’ll find a lot to do in the Northeastern Wisconsin city of Algoma located on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Known decades ago as the "Coho Capitol" of the Midwest, Algoma's reputation has long since changed. Today, it’s best known for consistent catches of Chinook salmon, “kings,” and rainbow trout, or “steelhead.”

In fact, DNR records show the area has led the state in the chinook catch for 18 straight seasons.  It has also been No. 1 in rainbow trout 22 of the past 25 years, including 12 straight.

Algoma is also home to three current state record catches, including the top steelhead (27.11 pounds), a 42-inch giant!

For a small community bordered by the azure waters of Lake Michigan at the base of the Kewaunee/Door County Peninsula, Algoma offers up plenty of treasures. Romantic getaways, girlfriend retreats and guys gone fishing are all popular themes when you talk with business owners and tourists in the area on any given day.

Dotted with a good mix of eclectic retail shopping, antique stores, coffee houses and eateries, there is sure to be something for everyone in your group. All are conveniently located within walking distance as part of a Main Street District program downtown.

You might choose a libation from the state’s longest-running winery (or its newest venture into micro beer brewing). Then relax along the river and lake far from the heat and humidity of your inland neighbors. 

The summer weekends are filled with outdoor music. So grab your sunglasses and head out for a variety of great acts around town. 

Algoma’s Crescent Beach and Boardwalk along the lakeshore is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic lunch or a scoop of ice cream. With its wheelchair-accessible boardwalk made from recycled plastic and numerous picnic tables and benches, it is the perfect spot to soak up some sun and listen to the sounds of Lake Michigan waves. 

Afterward, relax and enjoy a good book, a walk along the soft sand looking for treasures, or just watch the family make sand castles and splash in the water.

Self-guided historic walking tour brochures of the area are available at the visitor center which sits adjacent to Lake Michigan at the edge of the beach and boardwalk. Downtown, you can enjoy Walldog building art murals with their rich colors and themes that add to the natural beauty of the area while providing a great glimpse into the past.

No trip to the area would be complete without some photos of the lake and lighthouse. The Algoma Pierhead lighthouse is one of the most photographed spots in the state and is even more beautiful today, with a fresh coat of cherry-red paint after a $100,000-plus renovation this past summer. It never ceases to amaze us where the lighthouse will turn up as it recently did on the back of a national calendar alongside the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, and the Washington Monument!

World-class Great Lakes fishing is still the top draw each summer. And it’s solid in fall too; with a mix of big lake, pier, and river opportunities September through November.

County waters have produced more than 850,000 chinooks and 150,000 steelhead over the past decade. That’s more than a million of the top two sport fish that swim the lake! The area also produces thousands of coho salmon, lake trout and brown trout each year.

September brings chinooks and Wild Rose-strain browns within casting distance of the north and south piers, as well as into the harbor and up the Ahnapee River. The run peaks in late September and early October, with cohos and Seeforellen-strain browns following from early October to early November. Try casting spawn sacs, spoons, spinners, or stickbaits.

Once the river ices up, fishermen and women catch brown and rainbow trout along with an occasional late-run coho on spawn or minnows. Concentrate on deeper upstream holes, or anywhere there’s a discharge, manmade or natural, into the river.

Come spring, or as soon as the ice leaves the harbor launch, small boat trollers will scour the 10 to 20 foot depths for brown and lake trout. Most hits come on two to four inch minnow-imitating body baits or spoons behind planer boards.

The river rainbow run starts in late winter and peaks in April. There's no better bait than fresh spawn sacs, though yarn flies, spinners, real or plastic eggs and a variety of other artificials also bring hits.

Soon after, the lake fishing for salmon and steelhead heats up. Flasher and fly combinations, spoons and plugs all take hits, often two to five miles off shore.

There are also several nice inland lakes and streams located just minutes from Algoma. Bass, bluegill, crappie, yellow perch, trout and muskies are among the species available.

If you don’t have your own boat or if you’re new to Great Lakes fishing and want to shorten the learning curve, booking an Algoma charter is the right idea. Many captains are actively seeking “silver fish,” steelhead and salmon, in the 3 to 15 pound range  all September and well into October.

Dozens of charters fish Algoma spring through fall. Visit www.algomachamber.org for the latest list or check out the Algoma, Wiscsonsin Fishing page on Facebook for reports and photos.

After landing the big one, ask your captain which restaurants will cook up your fresh fish for you. They will prepare your catch of the day while you relax with a beverage of your choice and tell the tall tale again! It doesn’t get any fresher than that. Don't fish? There’s fresh-caught whitefish and chubs along with imported salmon, perch, walleye and other species at the local fish house, where fresh or smoked fish is available.

Each October the area is known for its stunning fall color displays and temperatures that typically stay 5 to 10 degrees warmer than inland. Yes, the lake does create its own special climate! Whether you come to hike, bike, ride your horse on the Ahnapee State Trail, or just take a drive around the area and enjoy the picturesque horse pastures, barns and colorful woodlands, the beach and countryside mix is sure to please.  

Algoma is centrally located between the state’s two main egg-collection sites for salmon and trout, the C.D. “Buzz” Besadny Anadromous Fisheries Facility on the Kewaunee River and the Strawberry Creek Chinook Salmon Facility just south of Sturgeon Bay. Both are about 15 minute drives from the Visitor Center and offer an exceptional opportunity to watch DNR crews and volunteers spawn salmon and trout for state hatcheries.

And, of course, being just 30 minutes from Green Bay, Packer fans can enjoy a game and then return to wet a line in the river, or just relax and dream of the next Super Bowl run.

Winter brings bright blue sunny skies and equally blue water. You can ice fish on the Ahnapee River for brown and rainbow trout, or on nearby Green Bay for whitefish, perch, walleyes and pike.

For additional information, or a community guidebook email Info@algomachamber.org or visit www.algomachamber.org for a list of businesses, calendar of events or weekly happenings! You can also call the 24-hour Algoma Area Fishing Hotline at (920) 487-3090, year-round, for the latest fishing information.