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Angler Lands Heaviest Chinook Salmon Caught in Wisconsin Since 1994


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Angler Lands Heaviest Chinook Salmon Caught in Wisconsin Since 1994

Bob McNally - Yesterday 6:18 PM
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This summer, Minnesota angler Brian Sollars was fishing Lake Michigan for just the second time. But he was in the right place at the right time aboard the Wisconsin-based charter boat Midnight, captained by Bill Classon with mate Carter Zimmerman.

Brian Sollars with the 40.40 pound Chinook salmon, caught in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan.
© Kinns Sport Fishing, via FacebookBrian Sollars with the 40.40 pound Chinook salmon, caught in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan.

At about 6:15 a.m. on July 31, a heavy fish slammed a Moonshine spoon trolled from the Midnight. The spoon was 50-feet deep off a downrigger in about 160 feet of water, according to a Facebook post by Kinns Sport Fishing, a charter boat operation based out of Algoma, Wisconsin.

The big salmon measured 44 inches long.
© Kinns Sport Fishing, via FacebookThe big salmon measured 44 inches long.

“It was funny—I didn’t feel anything but weight at first,” Sollars told the Door County Pulse. “I told Bill and Carter it was weeds, but then it took off on a long run.”

Sollars’ arms started aching during the fight, and for a time he thought the fish would take all the line on his reel and escape.

 

Related video: Running a Commercial Salmon Fishing Business in Alaska

 

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“Just looking at that line disappear, it looked like it was going to be about gone,” Sollars said. “I was hoping the fish would stop running at some point, and it did, and I was able to make some progress.”

It took about 15 minutes of hard work battling the huge Chinook, but Sollars slowly worked the salmon close to the “Midnight” boat and first mate Zimmerman netted the giant Chinook, or king salmon, and brought it into the boat.

The big salmon measured 44 inches long.

The fish is perhaps a “wild” salmon, according to Kinns, because it didn’t have a clipped adipose fin. Such fins commonly are clipped by hatchery workers when stocking salmon to indicate their origin. Since Chinook salmon have been shown to spawn naturally in Lake Michigan, Sollars’ fish may have been a naturally produced salmon, according to USFWS data on Chinnoks in the lake.

Sollars’ huge fish measured 44 inches long, with a 28.5-inch girth. It weighed 40.40 pounds on certified scales, or 40 pounds, 6.4 ounces.

The fish is the heaviest recorded Chinook in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan since the state record 44-pound, 15-ounce salmon was caught in July 1994 out of Sturgeon Bay. That fish measured 47.5 inches long.

On certified scales, a true “40-pound” Wisconsin Chinook is rare, according to Kinns Sport Fishing, which has run many thousands of Lake Michigan salmon charters over the decades.

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Hatchery worker comment... I hope you are joking... Otherwise that's ridiculous.and insulting to the people who work hard to bring us the fish that we all enjoy.. I've been to the hatchery many times and literally, they have to individually sort every fish in the ladder.   If they are there, they handle them,  every one of them... one way or another. 

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Biggest and strongest is not necessarily the "fittest" when it comes to reproductions the kings in the lake now are the results of many generations in lake Ontario and are likely a far stronger strain for the local environment than what we started with the increasing if irregular natural reproduction that occurs is a sign of that these fish still have the ability to get that big if they went 4 years till spawning it just is not common. These fish are more likely to spawn at 2. And don't let old timers fool you 40lb fish were never common. Even in the eslo the fall winner was rarely that big

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4 hours ago, whaler1 said:

In 2000 fall derby 14 out of top 20 were over 40lbs. 
In 2004 my 34.06 came in third. I almost released it. 
 

2010 we put a 33.0 and a 31.12 on the board.  Neither of them were in the top 20 at the end of the Fall LOC that year.  

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When the conditions push fish to spend an extra year in the lake you get a lot of bigger fish those years. They are well remembered because they are not common but it shows the genetics are fine for producing big fish just need the conditions to line up.

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Let's not forget that  Lake Michigan was overstocked with kings and the baitfish crashed for one reason or another . For many years, it was hard for the guys out there to land a 20# fish . 

 

It's taken the DNR out there a long time to get things straightened out . And this is the result of their efforts . 

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?? Michigan is still baitfish poor due to cleaner water and overstocking of Lake Trout. These outliers are probably the result of natural reproduction in one of their many clean running rivers. Something in their genetics is making them stay out in the lake longer. 

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1 hour ago, HB2 said:

Let's not forget that  Lake Michigan was overstocked with kings and the baitfish crashed for one reason or another . For many years, it was hard for the guys out there to land a 20# fish . 

 

It's taken the DNR out there a long time to get things straightened out . And this is the result of their efforts . 

Talk to Michigan guys about how many kings they catch a day....  I will take 30lbers as a big one and teen to mid 20's kings in numbers over a 40lber as a big one.  

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2 hours ago, GAMBLER said:

Talk to Michigan guys about how many kings they catch a day....  I will take 30lbers as a big one and teen to mid 20's kings in numbers over a 40lber as a big one.  

I would strongly agree with this sentiment.  numbers of respectable fish with a realistic chance at an occasional beast is rare fishery and one worth appreciating 

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Michigan overstocked the lake and crashed the baitfish population . It took a decade or more to get it back. 

 

NY learned from their mistake and keeps close tabs on the bait population and adjusts according . 

Sometimes to a fault ,IMO , but better safe than sorry . 

 

I feel there needs to be a balance .

The fishing is pretty easy if you get over fish. Considering  what we now know and equipment we now have. 

 

I feel ,at least for me ,  I want it to be a challenge . Some seemingly are not happy unless they have doubles and full boxes every trip . The bad days once in a while  are the ones that keep me coming back . 

 

 

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