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Steelhead Trout spawning run in Kewaunee County

Steelhead Trout under water at Besadny Anadromous Fisheries Facility near Kewaunee, April 12, 2017 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

KEWAUNEE COUNTY (WLUK) -- Fishermen are in many rivers along the Lakeshore, casting lines, trying to catch the sportfish, Steelhead Trout.

The Department of Natural Resources is also on the lookout for the fish.

At the Besadny Anadromous Fisheries Facility near Kewaunee, workers guided Steelhead Trout into position Wednesday morning.

"Weight-wise, 6-10 pounds. Typically, length-wise, they're probably 24-36 inches long," said Mike Baumgartner, Besadny Anadromous Fish Facilities Manager.

The fish funnel through an underwater passage and up a steel elevator.

"The spawning run started about 10 days ago, and it's probably past the peak, and really winding down now," said Baumgartner.

"We're just collecting basic information on these fish today. Length, weight, gender, fin clips. And then we're also collecting eggs from these fish for our hatchery production," said Nick Legler, DNR Fisheries Biologist.

Legler says when it comes to natural reproduction the Great Lakes Steelhead need help.

"Salmon and Trout need long stretches of of cold, well-oxygenated water. Our tributaries in Wisconsin tend to be flashy, kind of driven by rainfall and runoff," he said.

So what do fishermen think? Many anglers have been testing their luck in places like the Kewaunee River, for weeks.

"This is probably the best around," said Ryan Thompson, Sturgeon Bay.

Thompson says catching a Steelhead on his hand-made fly rod is the way to go.

"Once they're on, they fly like a freight train down the river. It's a rush," he said.

Back at the facility, workers mixed the eggs. In a typical season, 1.5 million of the little orange balls, will be sent to the Kettle Moraine Springs Hatchery near Plymouth.

"They'll keep them for a year, until next spring, when they'll be stocked out in the tributaries to Lake Michigan," said Baumgartner.

The facility handled about 300 Steelhead Wednesday.

Most were released back into Lake Michigan.

60 fish were taken as part of a health assessment study.

Then, those fish were delivered to a local food pantry.

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