KEWAUNEE, Wis (WBAY) As salmon throughout Lake Michigan are swimming up tributaries to spawn right now, anglers are pushing Wisconsin's DNR to increase stocking numbers.
It's an annual ritual that attracts anglers to the river banks and spectators to the fish ladder at the Besadny Fish Facility in Kewaunee.
The salmon are spawning, and marking the end of a fishing season few have seen before.
"Some of the largest fish we've seen in decades, and yet at the same time 2019 will likely go down as the lowest recorded harvest rate in the state of Wisconsin," says Troy Mattson, co-owner of the charter company Kinn's Sport Fishing in Algoma.
Mattson is one of those urging the DNR for a significant increase in salmon stocking, which has decreased over the last several years after harvest data showed anglers catching higher numbers of smaller fish.
"It's all a balancing act," admits Mattson.
With another year of record rainfall and salmon finding their way up even the smallest of streams, Mattson feels Lake Michigan is in prime condition to handle more salmon.
"Here in 2019 we're at all-time high lake levels, and there's green shoots across Lake Michigan, bait fish are bouncing back," reports Mattson.
After holding public hearings, the DNR is now in the process of determining stocking numbers for the next three years.
Initial proposals show an increase and a final decision is expected by the end of November.
"This Lake Michigan fishery, this is the lifeblood and support of our towns and communities up and down our whole Wisconsin seaboard," says Mattson.