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Brown trout receive cool release at Saxon Harbor

May 03, 2018 03:51AM ● By Editor

BILL GOBIN, a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources employee from the Brule Fish Hatchery, hands a net full of small brown trout to Brad Ray at Saxon Harbor on Wednesday morning.  Photo: Ralph Ansami/Daily Globe

By RALPH ANSAMI - Daily Globe - [email protected] - May 3, 2018

SAXON, Wis. - Brown trout were released near chunks of floating ice in Lake Superior at Saxon Harbor on Wednesday.

A crew from the Department of Natural Resources Brule hatchery released the 14,200 Seeforellen browns into the lake on a cold morning.

The trout would typically be stocked later in the year, but the harbor boat landings will be closed May 15 when dredging begins. The harbor is being reconstructed after a July 11, 2016, storm destroyed the park and marinas.

Bill Gobin, from Brule, transported the trout from the hatchery in a refrigerated DNR truck.

The fish were then loaded into tubs on a small boat by Brad Ray and Ray Carl at the landing to be released out from the breakwall.

Ray said the water temperature where the six- to seven-inch fish were dumped into the lake was 41 degrees, but it was only around 34 degrees in a nearby floating ice field in the lake.

The little browns are around 18 months old, Ray explained. The eggs were taken from Lake Michigan fish and raised for about a year in the DNR's Bayfield hatchery. The fish were then transferred to the Brule hatchery to be raised for the past five or six months.

The adipose fins of the fish are clipped before they are released to show they are stocked. Most are dumped in deep water so they won't be consumed by birds of prey in the shallow harbor.

Gobin, who has been releasing fish at Saxon Harbor for 26 years, said the browns are a joy to work with. "They sure eat a lot," he said.

He said they are protected at the hatchery from birds with the use of above ground netting.

Ray said the browns don't typically head up creeks to spawn and research is being done in an Ashland area Lake Superior stream to learn more about their reproduction habits.

Gobin said the browns mature at around four years, but don't die after spawning, as is the case with salmon. He said browns can live for 10 years or more.

The Seeforellens are different than other strains of brown trout because they run much later in the fall, often not spawning until late November or into December.

Last fall, a 16-pound brown was caught offshore at the harbor. Catches of 10-pounders are not uncommon. 

As the fish were being planted Wednesday, many anglers were heading out onto the lake in small boats to beat the May 15 harbor closing.

Some trollers reported success on Tuesday with limits of coho salmon, said Bill Hines, of the Harbor Lights.

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