There were big fish and a cooler full of rumors opening weekend of the 31st annual Kewaunee/Door County Salmon Tournament.
Nearly 150 chinooks larger than 20 pounds were weighed the first three days, more than 10 times the 14 “20s” put to scale during the entire nine-day event last year.
Two of the biggest stories involved a pair of trophy-size chinooks hooked in Door County, including one that was disqualified when a one-pound lead weight set off a metal-detecting scanner at Sturgeon Bay. (See front-page story).
Meanwhile, early leader Terry Gfeller of Ely, Minn., fishing in his 18˝-foot Lund Tyee, sparked controversy of his own after landing a 41˝-inch, 32.41-pounder about an hour before noon Sunday off Washington Island.
Tournament rules require a ticket-holding witness to each catch, and Gfeller was trolling alone.
He said fellow Minnesota angler Shawn Oglesbee witnessed him land the big fish, and Oglesbee concurred.
Some other contestants were unaware of the ability for an angler to fish alone, and questioned whether Oglesbee was “close enough” to be considered a witness.
The K/D committee will sort everything out at next week’s wrap-up meeting in Sturgeon Bay.
Gfeller said he didn’t leave the dock until about 6:30 a.m., and the monster “king” was his first bite roughly four hours later.
He said it hit a blue spoon about 66 feet down off the rigger in 150 feet of water.
“I’m 60 years old,” Gfeller said. “I do shift work, and if I can sleep in I’m happy. I like to let the boats clear out a bit and then I go back in and try to catch the big ones they left behind.”
Meanwhile, Steve Seilo of Green Bay was in second with a 29.66-pounder that hit cut herring about four miles off Kewaunee on a 10-color leadcore setup Monday morning, and Jesse Madoche of Brussels was third with a 28.43-pounder that took a Howie fly about 77 feet down in 90 feet of water off Sturgeon Bay Sunday.