Wild Things: Henriksen Wants to See Experimental Lake Trout Fishery

A study should be the first step, he tells the NRB

by KEVIN NAZE, [email protected], Peninsula Pulse contributor

Door County commercial netter Charlie Henriksen told the state’s Natural Resources Board (NRB) on Wednesday in Viroqua that the Lake Michigan Commercial Fishing Board, which he chairs, would like to see an experimental lake trout fishery begin soon.

Henriksen said commercial netters have been advocating for a way to create fair and equitable access to the thriving lake trout fishery for their customers for the past five years, since natural reproduction has increased dramatically and the sportfishing rules were relaxed. 

He told the board that commercial fishermen believe an experimental or study fishery with a modest total allowable catch would be the way to proceed immediately.

Henriksen told the seven-member board that he’s been working with representatives of Department of Natural Resources (DNR) secretary Adam Payne to ensure “the future of commercial fishing and the statutorily called for, stable and viable industry that gives all the people of Wisconsin access to their healthy, sustainable resource.”

In an update to board members last year, Henriksen expressed some dissatisfaction about that process, but he said he’s been encouraged by the agency’s response. 

He noted that money from the CARES Act enabled promotions of sport and commercial fishery – something he said was a refreshing change.

“Many are astounded that the DNR is promoting commercial fishing,” Henriksen said. “We look forward to the complete rollout of the program and appreciate the positive message. We are also encouraged that our industry now has a presence on the Wisconsin DNR website. This is long overdue, and we hope to enhance it in the near future.”

Massive environmental changes caused by the zebra and quagga mussel invasion of Lake Michigan have harmed the commercial fishing industry, Henriksen said.

“We have no lake harvest of perch, very limited harvest of chubs, and our tremendous whitefish fishery is just a shadow of what it once was,” he said.

However, one bright spot is that whitefish have recolonized lower Green Bay and adapted to a changed diet and living in warmer water.

Henriksen told the board that the DNR would be returning to the NRB in October with a revised whitefish quota. He said that it’s based on science and extensive research that have been rigorously discussed for more than eight years.

Save the Songbirds

Millions of songbirds hatched in Wisconsin during the summer will fly south for the first time starting in September, and bird-conservation groups are asking homeowners to take actions to help prevent the migrating birds from colliding with windows.

You can see three easy ways to do that during free webinars on Aug. 23, first at 12 pm and again at 7 pm. Register at

The webinars are part of the Stop the Fallout campaign by a collaboration of 180 state organizations that are committed to sustaining Wisconsin’s native birds. Local groups are adding follow-up events to give people a chance to see solutions in person and to ask questions of local bird lovers who have installed solutions on their home windows.

Research has shown that nearly 1 billion birds die every year in the U.S. after colliding with windows, and it’s estimated that about 44% of bird deaths due to window strikes occur at residences. A birding expert will demonstrate three easy ways to prevent such collisions: dot decals, a curtain of paracord, and using tempera, or washable paint, to make a design on the window to break up reflections. 

Some of the most vulnerable species include the ruby-throated hummingbird, house finch, cedar waxwing, northern cardinal and blue jay.

Fish Stocking

DNR fisheries crews have already stocked more than 2.5 million salmon and trout into Lake Michigan this year, including 1,386,492 Chinook salmon – the most since 2005. By the time the last fish is stocked this year, the total will surpass 2.9 million. That includes more than 522,000 rainbow trout, 500,000 coho salmon, 450,000 brown trout, and 50,000 brook trout.

Recreate Safely

As of last week, there were already 17 fatal ATV/UTV crashes and nine boating fatalities in Wisconsin this year. Five of the boating fatalities happened last month. DNR law-enforcement officials say the message is simple: Always ride sober, and always wear a life jacket or helmet.