DNR to stock salmon at 2016 levels, increase ‘bows
An outcry from anglers at public hearings and political pressure by a fledgling lobbying group likely helped prevent a proposed salmon stocking reduction beginning in 2017.
The Wisconsin DNR announced Tuesday that it would preserve chinook plants at current levels while increasing the number of rainbow trout stocked into Lake Michigan.
Tom Kleiman of Accurate Marine in Kewaunee, president of the Wisconsin Lakeshore Business Association, said anglers were deeply concerned when the initial recommendations came out earlier this year calling for a 62 percent lakewide reduction.
“We worked with key legislators and DNR leadership to see what we could do to avoid that,” Kleiman said. “And by getting legislators involved, we’ve even been able to cut through some of the red tape and speed some things up to get a new well and make use of the hatchery space at Kettle Moraine. That’ll mean more fish raised for stocking in the near future.”
Todd Kalish, DNR fisheries bureau deputy director, said the balanced plan maintains the recreational, economic and biological benefits of the chinook fishery. It also includes stakeholder-supported collaborative efforts such as increased use of net pens to boost survival; enhanced marketing of the Lake Michigan fishery; and more involvement of anglers in data collection.
For 2017, the proposed numbers for Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan waters include 812,270 chinook (same as 2016); 452,867 coho (same as 2016); 300,000 lake trout (712,377 actual in 2016); 340,000 steelhead trout (269,512 in 2016); and 362,000 brown trout (727,014 in 2016).
Be advised that the actual yield from hatchery production may vary from year to year by approximately 10 percent.
In order to allow chinook stocking to be maintained at 2016 levels — and a planned increase in steelhead — something had to give. That something was a 400,000-plus cut in lake trout and about 365,000 fewer browns.
The DNR said a hatchery brood stock strain of brown trout known as Wild Rose would be discontinued as it had a poor return to creel. The popular Seeforellen strain will continue to be stocked.
Fisheries managers estimate that rainbows (per fish stocked) are caught about twice as often as browns, and Chinooks about five times more often per fish stocked.
However, the data on that may be playing a role, as creel clerks check anglers in most locations only from April to October. Many browns are caught in winter and early spring.
The DNR said the brown trout cuts will be made in areas where stocked fish are not contributing to good fishing while increased steelhead stocking should enhance diverse Lake Michigan and river fishing experiences.
Meanwhile, a Lake Michigan Technical Committee working group has been tasked to review lake-wide lake trout stocking as it relates to individual jurisdictional and multi-jurisdictional management goals.
The 2016 pheasant hunting season opens at 9 a.m. Saturday, and locally-raised and state-raised birds should provide some action for those who hunt good habitat.
The Hungarian partridge, Zone B ruffed grouse and southern zone cottontail rabbit hunts also open Saturday.
Be sure to pick up a copy of the small game regulations pamphlet wherever licenses are sold, check the DNR website, or download the free Pocket Ranger app to get up to speed on the current rules.
You can get egg collection and fish number updates on the Besadny Facility at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/BesadnyFacilityReport.html.
To check what’s happening at the Strawberry Creek site, visit http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/StrawberryCreekWeirReport.html.
Kevin Naze is a freelance outdoors writer. Email him at [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: DNR to stock salmon at 2016 levels, increase 'bows