In the 1980’s a group of fishermen with a love for Lake Michigan started up a fishing club to share their passion.
Today, over 180 members strong, the Algoma-Kewaunee Area Great Lakes Sport Fishermen are hard at work repopulating king salmon in the Kewaunee River and Algoma’s Ahnapee River.
On April 20th, 24,000 king salmon were placed into three Kewanuee River pens, one large pen and two smaller ones, for the fourth year in a row.
On April 23rd, the club expanded their efforts to Algoma for the first time by placing 18,000 king salmon into a brand new pen for the Ahnapee River.
The new pen, measured at 25’x6.5’x5.5′, came together from the phenomenal support of the local community.
Ryan Baker, First Vice President for the fishermen club,
“$1,800 worth of aluminum for the pen was provided by the club itself, Kinns Sport Fishing and RV Charters donated a net valued at $800, and Tweet/Garot Mechanical donated the labor in the creation of the new pen.”
The pen not only protects the growth of the fish, but also keeps them safe from predators.
Though the club regularly oversees the king salmon, including feeding the fish twice a day, the DNR also plays a large role.
According to Baker, the DNR monitors the whole process including providing the actual fish,
“The DNR physically inspects the pens and decides where they’ll be placed in the rivers. They look over all five sides of the pen, including the underside, to be sure there is enough water current to wash away waste and uneaten food.”
With the approval of the placement of the pen and the pen itself, the DNR provides all the salmon based on the pen’s weight capacity, not by a predetermined number amount.
Baker explained that a major gauge of success for the project comes from tagging each and every fish,
“The DNR has a machine that can tag 10,000 fish an hour.”
Once the fish are ready the pens will be towed by boat to Lake Michigan where they’ll be released.
Yet most importantly, the fish imprint themselves into the rivers which leads to their return during spawning season around three years of age.
What this all leads up to is better fishing for the fall season.
“The whole idea is to get the fish to come back and spawn in the Kewaunee and Ahnapee rivers. We started this project three years ago, this being the fourth year, and we’re beginning to see encouraging results from the DNR tagging. Some fish are indeed returning from Lake Michigan to spawn in the Kewaunee River where they imprinted”
Joining the Algoma-Kewaunee Area Great Lakes Sport Fishermen only takes $10 a year or attendance to an annual $40 banquet.
You can learn more by visiting the club’s Facebook group here.