Return of the King?

It was just another day at work for DNR fishery technicians Lynn Peters and Joe Rosnow, but April 23 was a huge day for the charter fishing captains of Gills Rock.

Peters and Rosnow were in Gills Rock with a tanker truck full of six-month-old Chinook salmon fingerlings that were to be dumped into the lake at Gills Rock at the behest of the charter captains and other concerned citizens of Gills Rock.

On hand for the event were Don Grasse of King Fisher Charters, Tim Guckenberg of Reel Addiction Charters and Paul Schwengel, who has kept a boat in Gills Rock for 30 years and led the fundraising effort for net pens to hold the fingerlings (which, ultimately, were not used this year for a variety of reasons).

Betty Weborg with her grandson, Andrew.

Betty Weborg, wife of fourth-generation commercial fisherman Jeff Weborg, was also there with her 3-year-old grandson Andrew, who she said is likely to be a sixth-generation fisherman.

The salmon were hosed from the tanks on the truck into a section of open water where a spring from the upland swamps in Gills Rock emptied. Grasse hopes the salmon imprint on that area and return to Gills Rock in the fall.

Only time will tell if that happens and if the stocking of Chinook brings a return of sport fishing to Gills Rock. Grasse and other charter captains operating out of Gills Rock initiated the campaign for stocking in Gills Rock, instead of Ellison Bay where the stocking had taken place in the past, because of a lack of the Kings in the Gills Rock territory.

As with all 808,255 Chinook stocked by the Wisconsin DNR in Lake Michigan this spring, the 30,000 stocked at Gills Rock had a coded wire tag implanted in their snouts and had the adipose fin removed. Anglers who catch a Chinook with a missing adipose fin are asked to turn the head into the DNR so they can extract the tag. The data collected will help the DNR determine future stocking strategy. The DNR has partnered with local businesses along the Lake Michigan shore where anglers can drop off heads.

• Howie’s Tackle, 1309 Green Bay Road, Sturgeon Bay, 920.746.9916

• Department of Natural Resources, 110 S. Neenah Ave., Sturgeon Bay (Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.), 920.746.2860