Wild Things: Who’s Going to Win the K/D?

Dramatic opening weekend unfolds around the islands

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

If you know anything about fishing, you know that just about anything can happen. But even Hollywood movie producers couldn’t have scripted a more dramatic opening weekend for the Kewaunee/Door (K/D) County Salmon Tournament – one in which 19-year-old Ryan Jorgenson of Washington Island played a starring role.

Though his longtime friend and fishing partner Bradley Jordan had died in a motorcycle accident July 9, Jorgenson decided to pick up a K/D entry ticket for Jordan and go fishing.

Jorgenson put one copy of the K/D entry ticket he bought for Bradley Jordan on his boat, and the other half in Jordan’s casket. Photo by Ryan Jorgenson.

Early Saturday, hours before Jordan’s funeral and celebration of life, nothing out of the ordinary happened. In fact, they went about three hours waiting for a bite.

Jorgenson said once they hit a cold pocket of water, the action finally heated up: five releases, but only one fish caught.

“Around 8:10, 8:15, we turned to go with the wind, and the Dipsy took off,” Jorgenson said. “We were about to set a downrigger, and I told my buddy to go ahead and set that one [during the fight], and then another rod went off, and we were doubled up. I got mine in first.”

The most excitement came when the net man almost fell off the boat and had to be helped back in.

“When the fish hit the floor, I couldn’t believe it, as it hadn’t fought like anything special,” Jorgenson said.

But it was indeed a rare specimen. At 31.65 pounds on the brand-new scale at Mann’s Mercantile – the first weigh-in outside Kap’s Marina in 40 years – the 42-inch Chinook was an amazing, early leader in the 41st K/D.

“So many people came up to me [at the celebration of life] and were like, ‘What a great way to brighten the mood,’” Jorgenson said. “One person asked me what time I caught it, and when she found out, she said, ‘You might not believe this, but like five minutes earlier, Bradley came across [on the ferry] in his casket.’”

Goosebumps, and maybe some more tears.

The trophy king salmon was surely a contender for the top prize, but Jorgenson said his mind wasn’t on the cash.

“My first thought wasn’t the money; it was for my name to be on the plaque,” he said, alluding to the inaugural Bradley Jordan Memorial Prize for the biggest fish weighed on the island.

Tom Bray of Iron Mountain, Michigan, caught this 41-inch, 31.90-pound salmon around 8 am Sunday. It was registered nine hours later at Mann’s Mercantile on Washington Island. Photo by Kevin Krueger.

The next day, Tom Bray of Iron Mountain, Michigan, brought in a 41-inch, 31.90-pound salmon that he said hit near Rock Island around 8 am. It wasn’t weighed until 5 pm.

That fish, and a number of others put on the scale at Mann’s Mercantile, are being checked out to make sure they were caught in Wisconsin waters – as the rules require – after complaints came in that there were a number of boats fishing outside of the boundaries.

One of the weigh sheets on a fish likely to be in on the payout – but not from the potential first-place fish – listed the location of catch as “St. Martin Island,” which is in Michigan waters northeast of Rock Island.

For now, all of the top fish are listed as “unofficial” in their placings on the K/D Facebook page (

As of late Tuesday, the top 50 were all 23.5 pounds and larger, so it’s looking very likely that it could take a mid-20s fish to get in on the cash.

Tickets are still available for the contest, which ends at 12 pm Sunday.

Could there still be a storybook ending? Anything’s possible. Stay tuned.

Tree Planting

One of the most crucial decisions a property owner can make is which tree species and ages are the most appropriate and cost effective to plant.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Reforestation Program is taking some of the unknowns out of that process by giving landowners and property managers an early peek at the seedlings the agency anticipates having available in the fall for planting next spring. The list is preliminary because some species may be added, adjusted or removed depending on health, growth and other factors as the growing season progresses. 

The listed tree and shrub seedlings will be available to purchase starting Oct. 2. Check the list on the DNR website.

Birding Map

The National Audubon Society and Birdability have created a crowd-sourced map of accessible locations to go birdwatching. It’s a work in progress, and anyone may contribute to it.

The purpose of the Birdability Map is to give people with disabilities and other health concerns access to this information ahead of time so they can decide whether a location is one they would like to visit. How do you know where to go, based on your body? Check out the Birdability Map at