Salmon to be planted
Written by Ironwood Daily Globe   
Wednesday, 05 January 2005 09:48
SAXON, Wis. -- People with delicate hands who are handy with scissors are being recruited for a mammoth "clip job" this spring.

The Department of Natural Resources is seeking Saxon Harbor Boating Club members and other interested volunteers who'd like to fin clip 10,000 chinook salmon that will be released out of Saxon Harbor.

The fish are raised to about four or five inches at the DNR's Bayfield hatchery before they are transported to the harbor and held in a pen in the marina. After growing a few more inches, they'll be released in deeper water, beyond the breakwater.

Volunteers will be needed to either clip the fish at the hatchery or in the pen at the harbor, said Steve Schram, a DNR fisheries biologist.

"Some people can clip 500 fish in a day, while some can do 1,000," Schram said. If 10 people volunteer to help, the clipping could be finished in a single day, he said.

It's not a fun job, likened to cleaning entrails from smelt.

The purpose of clipping the salmon is to determine where they might move in Lake Superior, Schram said.

Of 100,000 chinooks to be released in the western area of the lake, there will be different fin clips for Pikes Bay, Chequamegon Bay and Saxon Harbor fish. A total of 30,000 of the 100,000 salmon will be clipped.

"The cheapest way to do it is fin clipping," Schram said.

In the 1980s, the DNR stocked up to 500,000 chinooks a year in Lake Superior. "That's about double of the 200,000 we're stocking now," Schram said.

A recent study showed about two-thirds of the chinooks caught in the lake are "wild," or the result of reproduction, not stocking. Many of the fish in Wisconsin come from Michigan, Minnesota and even Ontario, he said.

The DNR does not stock coho salmon, which reproduce well and are the second most popular gamefish in Lake Superior, behind the lake trout.

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