Big Pond breaking records for summer salmon Green Bay man wins top Kewaunee/Door County tourney prize
By KEVIN NAZE
A 40-pound salmon and two state records in a week’s time are among the summer’s top fish tales so far on Lake Michigan.
Minnesota anglers reeled in two of the three, including a 44-inch, 40.4-pound Chinook caught July 31 on an Algoma charter boat.
It is believed to be the heaviest “king” weighed on a certified scale since the Wisconsin record 44.92-pounder was landed near Sturgeon Bay in 1994.
Two weeks later, on Aug. 14, Mark Sondreal of Minneapolis caught a 29.5-inch, 12.46-pound pinook — a wild cross between a pink salmon male and a female Chinook — that broke a state record confirmed by DNR fisheries staff seven days prior.
Upper Peninsula angler Miro Cigler caught the first big pinook Aug. 5 on a charter out of Sturgeon Bay.
The 11.67-pounder broke a record that had last been set in 2016 off Washington Island.
An afternoon later, Kyle Gebert of Rudolph, fishing on his own boat out of Algoma, landed what he believed to be a 10.40 pound pink salmon that would have blown away the state record by more than four pounds.
DNR fisheries staff checked both his and Cigler’s fish Aug. 8, and determined both to be pinooks.
Troy Mattson, co-owner of Kinn’s Sport Fishing, said the 40.4-pound salmon was the largest ever caught in an operation that’ll be celebrating its 50th year in business next summer.
Photos of the giant were seen by nearly 100,000 people on a trio of Facebook pages that posted them, and Mattson said phone calls were coming in from across the country.
Meanwhile, Walker Linssen of Green Bay topped a record field of more than 3,300 anglers in the Kewaunee/Door County Salmon Tournament last month.
His 41-inch, 32.76-pound Chinook, caught near Kewaunee, won the top prize of $15,000 cash plus a free mount of the catch and a custom-made silver salmon ring with a ruby eye in commemoration of the event’s 40th anniversary.
Linssen and fellow Green Bay fisherman Matt Siudzinski were aboard a boat owned by Dennis Oshefsky of Reedsville July 23 when the winning fish hit.
The trio had made plans to go fishing weeks earlier after meeting at a party.
Seven other 30-pound-plus salmon were caught during the 10-day event, and 100th place was still a very hefty 25.50 pounds.
Last July, a 38.56-pound Chinook was caught off Algoma one day prior to the start of the K/D Tournament.
The same month, a 39.20-pounder was reeled in out of Muskegon, Mich., the biggest in the 20-year history of the multi-state Tournament Trail series.
And on Aug. 7, 2021, a 47.86-pounder was caught on a Ludington, Mich. charter boat, breaking a state mark that had stood for 43 years.
The Michigan record also set an all-time Great Lakes mark, narrowly surpassing a fish caught Sept. 7, 1991, in Lake Ontario’s Salmon River in New York.
That one weighed 47 pounds, 13 ounces.
The record from Lake Ontario itself is a 46.38-pounder caught off of Toronto, Canada on Aug. 7, 2000.
The increase in Lake Michigan salmon size is likely a result of fewer fish stocked from 2013-2019, which allowed the alewives to rebound.
The cuts began after coded wire tag research showed that more than half of the salmon in the lake were naturally reproduced.
Wisconsin has since increased salmon stocking 50 percent.
After failing to top 30 pounds seven straight years (2004-10) in the K/D tournament, 10 of the last 12 winners have been 30-plus-pounders, including the last eight in a row.
Fish stocking meeting
The public is invited to attend — in person or via Zoom — a DNR Lake Michigan fisheries meeting from 6-9 p.m. Aug. 30 at Lakeshore Technical College’s Centennial Hall West in Cleveland, located between Manitowoc and Sheboygan east of I-43.
Fisheries staff will share the latest state and federal research and take public input on salmon and trout stocking.
More information, including a link to pre-register, is available at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Fishing/lakemichigan/LakeMichiganSalmonandTroutMeetings.html.
Weekly Water Levels
As of Aug. 12, Lake Michigan water levels were down nine inches from last August and two feet below the monthly record set in 2020.
Lake levels were still 41 inches above the record monthly low, set in 1964, and nine inches above the 100-year average.