By Kevin Naze
BROWN COUNTY – Christmas in July is something you rarely hear nowadays, but charter captain Chris Kadletz of Luxemburg got a gift recently he’ll never forget.
On the eve of her 71st birthday, Susann Jacques of De Pere was on a Lake Michigan fishing trip out of Algoma with her daughter Ronda Jacques and granddaughter Oreana Lord, both of Green Bay.
Fishing aboard the Outcast, a sportfishing charter captained by Kadletz, all three women played a role in landing one of the season’s biggest trophies — a 35-pound, 10-ounce giant of a Chinook, or “King,” salmon.
“When dusk came, all heck broke loose,” Susann Jacques said. “We had four fish on at once.”
The other fish weren’t nearly as big and were quickly landed, but the big one wouldn’t budge.
“I was fighting it first,” Jacques said. “It pulled straight out and kept going. I had a long haul. I’d gain maybe 10 feet, and it would take out 15 or 20. I fought it for as long as I could.”
Oreana, 28, was up next.
“She doesn’t give up easily, but it was doing the same to her,” Jacques said. “After a while, her arm got tired, so my daughter took a turn.”
More than an hour later — and well after dark — the fish was finally brought to net.
To say Kadletz and first mate Mason Ravet were jacked up is an understatement.
“They were jumping up and down, ‘It’s a trophy. It’s a trophy. It’s a trophy,’” Jacques said. “Seeing how happy they were made it worth it to me. (Katletz) gave me a big hug.”
Jacques said her family used to fish out of its own boat, but after pulling it back and forth and paying dock fees and other expenses, she said they decided it was cheaper to charter a couple of times a year – that was a decade ago.
“We always chartered out of Kewaunee, but the guy sold his boat, so our trip was canceled,” Jacques said. “We went online and found Outcast, and he happened to have the opening we wanted.”
She said her previous biggest catch was a lake trout of about 25 pounds, and her previous best salmon was about 23 pounds.
Jacques says she freezes her charter catches and eats salmon and trout throughout the year.
She also gives some to her 93-year-old aunt and other family and friends.
“It was a fish of a lifetime,” Jacques said of her July 19 outing. “You don’t catch 35-pound salmon. I left the boat captain to have it. Hanging it in his den probably means more to him than it’d mean to me. He has the fish, but I have the memory, the pictures — and the sore arm.”
The year of giants
Jacques’ “King” is not the only magnum-sized salmon caught this season.
In fact, it wasn’t even the biggest of that week.
Three days later, a young man from southern Wisconsin was fishing with his dad and brother on an Algoma charter when he landed a 38.58-pound Chinook, thought to be the heaviest in two decades on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan.
That impressive fish was caught 18 hours before the start of the 39th annual Kewaunee/Door County Salmon Tournament and almost certainly would have taken home the event’s top prize of $10,000 cash, a free mount and a custom-made silver salmon ring had it come a day later.
The event wrapped up a nine-day run July 31.
To check results, visit facebook.com/kdsalmon2021.
Sports editor’s note: To read another In the Outdoors article by Kevin Naze, CLICK HERE.