Wild Things: Jorgenson Nets 1st Place in K/D

by Kevin Naze, [email protected], Peninsula Pulse contributor

Month after derby ends, $80,000 payout announced

It took a month longer than expected, but a record payout in the 41st annual Kewaunee/Door County Salmon Tournament was announced this week.

Nineteen-year-old Ryan Jorgenson of Washington Island earned the top prize of $15,000, a free mount of the catch and a custom-made salmon ring for his 42-inch, 31.65-pounder landed near Rock Island. 

He’s also the inaugural winner of the Bradley Jordan Memorial Award, $400 cash and his name engraved on a plaque honoring his late friend ( More on the circumstances surrounding the catch can be seen at

The tournament paid out more than $80,000 in cash and prizes, down to 201st place (22.37 pounds). There were a record 3,796 entrants.

A multi-weeks probe into several other catches resulted in two disqualifications, including a 31.9-pounder. Failure to take a required polygraph resulted in one DQ, while listing an Upper Michigan island as the location of catch erased a mid-20s potential prizewinner. 

Fishing in Michigan waters is not allowed in the K/D, though it is in the lakewide Salmon-A-Rama.

Second place went to Krista Thuer of Mount Prospect, Illinois for her 42-3/4-inch, 29.74-pounder, also hooked near Rock Island. She won $8,000 and a Howie’s Tackle prize package.

In third place was Cathy Lohrey of Algoma with a 41-1/2-inch, 28.97-pounder at Algoma. She won $5,000 and a Yacht Works Kewaunee prize package.

Interestingly, Lohrey’s “king” was missing its adipose fin, meaning it was a stocked salmon. Chinook in 2020 were not fin-clipped due to COVID-19 orders. That means age three-plus salmon (what anglers call “four-year-olds”) this summer weren’t clipped as fingerlings. If Lohrey’s catch was only in its third summer, imagine how large it would have been in 2024.

Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regional fisheries team supervisor Nick Legler said steelhead yearlings stocked out spring 2021 did not get adipose clipped or tagged. Without the COVID restrictions on staff, they would have been clipped and tagged in fall, 2020.

Yearling steelhead stocked in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022, and 2023 were adipose clipped and given coded wire tags as part of a natural reproduction study.

Legler said the DNR previously adipose-clipped and coded-wire-tagged Chinook lakewide six years, from 2011 to 2016, and found more than 50 percent of the salmon caught by anglers were naturally reproduced. Other than 2020, Chinook continue to be fin-clipped, but no longer are part of the CWT study.

Comment on Wolves

The public can comment on a permanent rule relating to gray wolf harvest regulations once delisted. The hearing will be held at 4 pm, Sept. 12. There will be an opportunity to testify, but you must pre-register via an online form.

The rule may be reviewed and comments made at

A draft copy of the recently-revised Wolf Management Plan is available at It is expected that the plan will go to the state Natural Resources Board in October. 

Since early July, wolves have killed at least 15 dogs and wounded three others in six northern Wisconsin counties.

Mink Estuary Paddle

The Mink River Estuary in Door County is one of a dozen water-based trips to State Natural Areas (SNAs) highlighted in a new online resource put out by the DNR’s Natural Heritage Conservation program.

SNAs protect prairies, old-growth forests and pristine wetlands. The Mink River Estuary includes about five miles that can be explored by canoe or kayak, starting at the public boat landing on County Road ZZ at Rowley’s Bay. 

One of the Great Lakes’ finest freshwater estuaries, The Nature Conservancy’s Mink River Preserve is where the waters of the Mink River join those of Lake Michigan and provide habitat for waterfowl and spawning fish. It is fringed by marshes of rushes, sedges and beds of wild rice. Learn more at

Donations provide about 40 percent of funding for the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation staff. You can donate by purchasing an Endangered Resources license plate, giving on your state income tax form, or via an online link at

Waterfowl Expo

The third annual Waterfowl Hunters Expo is set for Aug. 26 at the Sunny View Expo Center in Oshkosh. This outdoor, family- and dog-friendly event will allow hunters to engage with the latest experts and technologies ahead of the migratory bird seasons. The first ones – early teal, early Canada goose and mourning dove – begin Sept. 1.

There will be more than 120 exhibits and booths, state duck-and goose-calling championships, judging for the 2024 waterfowl stamp contest, and a decoy-carving contest. 

The event runs from 8 am to 5 pm. Cost to enter is $10, with children under 12 free. There’s $2 off for active military, veterans and first responders.

Open House Aug. 26

Virlee Gunworks Shooting Center is having an Open House Saturday, Aug. 26 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. as part of its second anniversary of its Sturgeon Bay store, 1019 Egg Harbor Road.

There will be range demos, product showcases, seminars, membership discounts, and prizes. Manufacturer representatives from firearm companies will be on site. For more information, visit