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We’re always looking for new experiences when visiting beautiful Door County and last summer my husband and his friends booked a charter fishing excursion to celebrate an upcoming wedding. Would they do it again? Absolutely! Are their “fish tales” worth telling? I believe you’ll love hearing what they have to say about this adventure out of Sturgeon Bay. If you want a fishing experience that’s unique to the waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan, this just might be the adventure for you. And that goes for girlfriends, grandparents and grandkids, families, couples or groups of friends. What could be better at the end of the day, than going back to your Door County vacation rental and eating something you caught?

A charter fishing excursion is “a great way to see Door County from a different perspective. Most people are introduced to it from the road, not from the water.”

– Brian (the only one to give his fish a hug)

Why book a fishing charter?

Their story begins early one Saturday morning in September. 4 a.m., to be exact. They met at Reel Impression Sportfishing Charters in Sturgeon Bay for a six hour tour in search of “the big one.” From that point on, they were in the capable hands of Captain John and his first mate. The guys say that’s the whole point. The charter is taking you on a fishing trip that isn’t easy to do on your own. They have the boat, the fishing gear, and the knowledge of the waters. The boat, a 35 foot Viking Sportfish, has a galley-style kitchen, lounge seating area, a crow’s nest and, yes, a bathroom! Our group went out in search of King Salmon, but you can also fish for lake trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout. 

Find a trusted Captain who knows the waters

Captain John’s website says he has 25 years of Door County charter fishing experience. So he has seen it all.. rough waters, calm waters and anything in between. On this day, it was smooth sailing.

A captain’s job is to put you “on the fish.” While it’s not a guarantee that the fish will be biting, in this case, all six guys on board went home successful. As you can see from the pictures, some of these salmon will make more meals than others!

Reel it in!

The fishing lines are put on a downrigger, as my husband explained to me. “The fish are usually at deep depths, so they use a weighted ball on a wire to take your lure down to deeper waters.” The desired catch is King Salmon. When the fish tugs the line, the crew goes into action. They hand you the rod, you reel it in, and they are there to help you net it and bring it on board! The key to that: YOU reel it in!

The captain and first mate also clean the fish for you. Right on the back of the boat. Filleting them and feeding the guts to the gulls. (Pretty picture, huh?) Forget farm to table. This is lake to table!

Gather the right group

Like I said earlier, Door County charter fishing isn’t just an experience for the guys. It could be grandparents taking their grandkids on an excursion. A few years ago, my husband and I went charter fishing with two other couples. Families or friend groups would enjoy it, too. Reel Impressions allows anyone over the age of 4 to come along. For the groom-to-be on this trip, it was all about the camaraderie, and spending time with his buddies. “You need someone who can bring stories. And jokes!”

What to bring and what definitely NOT to bring

Bring beer. Not bananas. Definitely do not bring bananas! Bananas are bad luck for boaters. Google it. But do bring a cooler full of drinks and snacks. You’ll fill it back up at the end of the day with your fresh catch. Dress in layers and wear boat friendly shoes. Bring dramamine if you tend to get seasick. Lake Michigan can sometimes be very choppy. Pro tip (from personal experience), don’t drink too much the night before. And bring a camera to capture your Door County charter fishing highlights!

As for anything official, you will need a fishing license. You can buy a Wisconsin fishing license with the trout/salmon stamp. Non-residents can buy a 2-day license.

Plan ahead!

Just like our Northern Door Vacation Rentals, charter fishing trips book up quickly. And the season is shorter. In Door County, charter fishing excursions usually head out from June to September. Happy fishing!