Liberty Grove Town Board Adds Voice to Plea for Chinook in Gills Rock

Carl Rasmussen talks to the Liberty Grove Town Board about the economic impact of excluding Gills Rock from the Chinook salmon stocking strategy since 2004.

At its Sept. 4 meeting, the Liberty Grove Town Board promised charter captains in Gills Rock and others interested in the recent scarcity of Chinook salmon in that historic fishing port that it would weigh in with an eloquent letter and possibly a video on flash drive to be presented at the Oct. 12 Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum in Cleveland, Wis., where forum members will hear comments from the public regarding Chinook stocking for the 2014 season.

As previously reported in the Peninsula Pulse, charter operators have had a lousy season this year. A little research led them to information that Chinook salmon have not been stocked in Gills Rock for at least eight years, which they believe explains the absence of fish in their area.

Rather than taking customers for a literal ride, they prefer to be honest and let them know that no one is catching fish in Gills Rock, which has meant cancellations and a subsequent loss of income for them and all the others who benefit from groups of people coming to the peninsula.

The concerned group of Gills Rock citizens contacted the Liberty Grove Town Board and asked to be included on the agenda for the town’s Sept. 4 meeting.

“We have the risk here of losing an industry. That’s extremely serious,” former town board member Bob Tidball told the board at the meeting.

Carl Rasmussen, a Minnesotan who spends five months of the year in Gills Rock and has been fishing there since 1985, said he and his wife bought the Windside Condominiums in Gills Rock “because we wanted to fish salmon. And that’s the whole reason that we’re here.”

Friends that usually come every year and spend thousands of dollars “between Gills Rock and Sister Bay” didn’t bother this year because of the lack of fish.

“We need to find out why these guys in the DNR stopped stocking these fish,” Rasmussen said.

“It’s hard to tell people when they call you and want to go fishing that it’s going to be quiet and you’re not going to catch a lot of fish. It really hurts,” said Mike DiIulio, who runs Capt. Paul’s Charter Fishing.

“One of the things that is important to realize is that charter fishing and any private boat fishing is a lot like having a meal at a restaurant. You go to a restaurant the first time and have a bad meal, you’re not inclined to go back,” said Don Grasse of King Fisher Charters. “We’ve had decent years in the past. Since about eight years ago, you can see the decline. It’s becoming a pretty big issue for us.”

Town Supervisor Nancy Goss suggested both the eloquent letter and flash drive video.

“Let’s be squeaky wheels,” she said.

The Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum takes place 8:30 am to 3:30 pm in the Wells Fargo Room of Lakeshore Technical College, Cleveland, Wis.

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