Wild Things: Salmon Schooling for Spawning Run

Peak still weeks away, but early catches are best

by KEVIN NAZE, [email protected]

It’s hard to believe we’re only a month away from the annual salmon-egg harvest at Strawberry Creek.

Four weeks is a long time, but death-run Chinooks are already beginning to stage out in Lake Michigan. A few early runners might even check out the Sturgeon Bay canal and harbors at Algoma and Kewaunee. And, although the peak of the run into the Ahnapee and Kewaunee rivers and Strawberry Creek is still weeks away, early to mid-September is prime time to cast spoons, spawn and stickbaits off the piers for a shot at the freshest fish with the highest-quality flesh.

A southeast blow over the weekend and strong west winds earlier this week cooled the nearshore waters – an ideal scenario for shorebound anglers. 

Bob Sconzert of Green Bay holds a pre-spawn Chinook salmon caught off the south pier at Kewaunee. Photo courtesy of Bob Sconzert.

Chinooks are the main target, but don’t be surprised if you tie into a brown trout either. They’re also fall spawners, though the Seeforellen strain that’s stocked nowadays usually runs more with coho salmon from late September to late October. 

If you’ve never done it, hit up a reputable bait-and-tackle shop such as Howie’s in Sturgeon Bay to get advice on what you’ll need to have a chance at landing a trophy-size fish from the pier. 

Meanwhile, September is also a solid month for perch, bass, pike and walleye in Green Bay waters. 

The extended forecast calls for warm temperatures and little precipitation for the first half of the month. That makes for some ideal late-summer fishing, but the very best catches often take place after the temperatures drop.

Hunter Education

Beginning hunters can sign up for a traditional hunter-education class or an online course plus a field day. Neither are currently available in Door or Kewaunee county, but both types are coming up soon in Brown County.

Unless hunting under the Mentored Hunting Law, anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, must complete a hunter-education course and have a hunter-education certification on file to purchase any hunting license in Wisconsin. 

There are two regular hunter-education courses coming up this month. One starts Sept. 20 at the Kroc Community Center in Green Bay, and the other begins Sept. 22 at the Barkhausen Nature Center in Suamico. Both end Sept. 24. 

Another option for many is studying online, then attending a field day to finish up. The field-day option is available Oct. 8, 8 am – 3 pm, at the New Franken Sportsmen’s Club.

Before enrolling in any course, interested students must first obtain a Wisconsin customer ID number. You can do so online at

Find out more about safety-education classes by county at

Wolf Depredations

As of Aug. 23, wolves had killed at least 34 livestock and 12 dogs in 11 Wisconsin counties this year. In addition, there was verified wolf harassment of more than 200 livestock and three dogs in six counties, including four counties not included in the 11 with depredations. 

There were nearly 80 other unconfirmed depredations or conflicts. That compares to just seven confirmed as nonwolf depredations or complaints in which coyotes, a bear and a dog were identified.

Douglas County led the depredations with 15 cases, followed by Bayfield with eight, Langlade and Juneau with two each, and Marquette, Jackson, Lincoln, Forest, Oconto, Washburn and Burnett with one each. Douglas added three verified harassment cases, Price two, and Oneida, Rusk, Chippewa and Marquette one each.

Fourteen counties had depredations or complaints that couldn’t be verified as wolves. They included Bayfield and Price with three each, Rusk and Marathon with two each, and one each in Langlade, Barron, Juneau, Taylor, Monroe, Marinette, Oconto, Wood, Forest and Adams counties.

Whitetails Unlimited Banquet Oct. 11

The Kewaunee County Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited is celebrating the national organization’s 40th anniversary Oct. 11 with a banquet at the Rendezvous near Luxemburg. 

Single tickets are $45, age 15 and younger are $25, and life members are $22. A variety of sponsor and raffle packages will be available. Make credit-card reservations at or by phone at 800.274.5471. You can also get tickets and more information from field director Jay Newton, 9 am – 6 pm, at 920.960.9594.

Whitetails Unlimited has more than 114,000 members. Since its inception in 1982, it has provided more than $116 million in support of conservation, education, wildlife enhancement and the preservation of the shooting sports and hunting tradition for future generations.

Weekly Water Levels

As of Aug. 26, Lake Michigan water levels were down two inches from late July, down nine inches during the past 12 months and down 26 inches from the August record in 2020. Levels were seven inches above the 100-year average and 39 inches above the 1964 record monthly low. The lake level is projected to drop another three inches by late September.