Recent rains have pushed stream flows well above long-term averages in major Lake Michigan tributaries, including the Kewaunee River in Kewaunee County, prompting anticipation for this year’s Chinook salmon run.
As the mature salmon begin their final journey up the Kewaunee rivers and Strawberry Creek in Door County, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries staff will be on hand to collect the eggs and milt needed for the next generation of fish for Lake Michigan stocking.
Visitors will be able to see the action firsthand at open house events at the C.D. “Buzz” Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility on Saturday, Oct. 1.
At the Strawberry Creek facility, a key source for Chinook salmon eggs, visitors are welcome and able to observe inside the fence when staff are present.
“The fall open house events provide an opportunity for community members to learn firsthand about efforts to collect eggs for next year’s stocking and how we manage the Lake Michigan fishery,” said Todd Kalish, DNR fisheries bureau deputy director. “We look forward to welcoming visitors to Besadny, Root River and Strawberry Creek.”
The Besadny open house features an opportunity to sponsor tagged fingerling sturgeon and participate in the river release of these young fish.
Mike Baumgartner, who supervises the Besadny facility in Kewaunee, said based on early returns and natural water flows, this year’s run should surpass last year’s results.
The open house event also features guided tours of the facility, fish print t-shirt making and fishing lessons along with other activities. Visitors can park in a lot down the road and walk or take the horse and wagon ride to get here.”
The open house events are free and open to the public with food and beverages available from local groups as well as guided facility tours and activities geared to youth. Trails and paths near the facilities offer opportunities for families to explore the river environment and enjoy wildlife and bird viewing.
The Oct. 1 event at the Besadny facility in Kewaunee runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The facility, on the Kewaunee River, was built in 1989-1990 and collects eggs from Chinook and Coho salmon as well as brown and steelhead or rainbow trout for rearing in a series of ponds. A processing building featuring a lobby with displays and a public viewing window was completed in 1996.
Nick Legler, DNR fisheries biologist specializing in Chinook, said fisheries staff members anticipate processing fish at the Strawberry Creek Chinook Facility outside Sturgeon Bay, on Oct. 3, 6, 11, possibly 13 and subsequent Mondays and Thursdays throughout the run. However, the dates are subject to change depending on the run and numbers of fish.
To learn more, visit dnr.wi.gov and search “fisheries open house.”