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Sevastopol student Brent Haberli was among the lucky ones in the weekend youth gun deer hunt, tagging this 11-point, 199-pound buck Saturday evening. / For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com
A pair of chinooks splashed out of the water near the Forestville dam on the Ahnapee River earlier this week. Eggs and milt from salmon carried out by anglers can be seen on rocks above the fish. / Photo by Kevin Naze

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One of the most inconsistent summers for catching chinook salmon on Lake Michigan in decades had many anglers anticipating a poor fall spawning run in the tributaries, too.

Instead, the runs into major lakeshore rivers, some of the creeks and even northern Door harbors have been solid in recent weeks, offering shore-bound anglers a chance to tangle with a trophy “king.”

As a bonus, the Ahnapee River and some of the lakeshore creeks have also lured a few colorful coho salmon and brown trout.

As usual, a lot more fish are being seen than legally hooked, but patient anglers — and often, those who get out at dawn on the tributaries or cast after dark with spawn or glow baits in bay harbors — have been getting occasional strikes. Fresh roe, spawn sacs, nightcrawlers, Power Bait, stickbaits, jigs, flies, spoons and spinners are all being tried.

More than 5,300 chinooks have been handled at the DNR’s Strawberry Creek facility, with two more egg-takes planned for next week. So many kings were packed in the holding pond last weekend that more than 1,700 died when oxygen levels plunged, yet there were nearly 1,300 others still alive come Monday morning.

Just three days later, more than 900 salmon were spawned Thursday; hundreds more were still finning inside or swimming their way up the creek just below the facility.

DNR fisheries biologist Nick Legler said crews will be back out Monday morning, and likely wrap up egg-taking for the season Thursday.

Stocking cuts that began this year across Lake Michigan could eventually mean fewer salmon caught, but the strong tributary run combined with trollers catching big numbers of steelhead and younger salmon 3 to 8 miles off shore in the past month means the fish many thought “weren’t there” this summer indeed were.

In a lake hundreds of miles long by 60 miles or so across with depths greater than 900 feet in places, it may have been a case of the kings simply not being in the depths most anglers were fishing.

Comment on deer

In advance of a public hearing Oct. 24 in Green Bay on proposed rules for implementation of the Deer Trustee Report recommendations, the DNR will host a live online chat Monday at noon to answer questions and collect feedback.

To participate, visit dnr.wi.gov and look for the box to enter, or search “Ask the Experts.” Alternatively, you can click the “Cover it Live Chat” box at https://www.facebook.com/WIDNR. Click the “Cover it Live Chat” box on the top of the page.

Beginning Monday, you’ll be able to comment electronically as well at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/trustee.html. The site includes a complete list of proposals and public hearing locations.

Earlier this week, the Executive Committee of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress has endorsed the recommendation of the Congress’ Deer and Elk committee to use county boundaries for deer management.

WCC Chairman Rob Bohmann said a county-based system will allow residents at the local level to help make decisions on the management of the herd.

Hunt for Hungry

The Hunt for the Hungry program is off to a fair start, with about 50 deer donated so far during the early bow deer hunting season in Northeastern Wisconsin.

An average deer provides about 120 to 160 quarter-pound servings of hamburger. Get all the details at www.huntforthehungry.com.

ATV deaths

Deaths among ATV/UTV users this year are the highest since 2009, with 18 fatalities already reported. DNR safety specialists remind riders to slow down, wear a helmet and avoid drinking alcohol before riding.

— Kevin Naze is a freelance outdoors writer. Call him at (920) 883-9792 or email wildtimes@wizunwired.net.

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