Reflecting on Salmon-a-Rama

Filleted fish
Filleted fish are pushed towards the large garbage disposal in the drain of the fish cleaning station at Salmon-a-Rama on July 18, 2010 in Racine, Wis. | Canon 1D Mark III and 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS lens @ 70mm | Exposed 1/80 sec. @ f/5.6, ISO 400 (0EV)

On Sunday, Salmon-a-Rama wrapped up with angler Roger Hellen taking the grand prize of $10,000 for his 41.5 pound Brown trout caught on Thursday.  It was the final day of the tournament, and I knew that it was a make-or-break day for me as I needed a few more interviews and some different images.  I was tired of hauling all of the lenses that I had been taking with me every day, so in favor of the 70-200mm f/4L IS lens that is my standard telephoto, I borrowed my dad’s 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS lens–one of only two Canon lens that intentionally diffracts light to create a more compact lens.  (The other is my longest lens, the 400mm f/4 DO IS.)

I’m hoping to put together an audio slideshow of Salmon-a-Rama that could stand alone from, as well as become a part of, my master’s project on Asian carp and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Fish cleaning station
Cleaned and filleted salmon from the "Norwegian Fishing Team," composed of friends Chris Dorsey, Shane Callen, and Pete Brekke, sit at the end of the cleaning station at the close of Salmon-a-Rama. | Canon 5D Mark II and 24-70mm f/2.8L lens @ 35mm | Exposed 1/80 sec. @ f/2.8, ISO 100 (0EV)

Need a moment?
"Need a moment?" Shane Callen, left, Chris Dorsey, middle, and Pete Brekke, right share a moment before the awards ceremony at Salmon-a-Rama on July 18, 2010 in Racine, Wis. The trio called themselves "The Norwegian Fishing Team," and Dorsey took fourth place for "master angler." | Canon 1D Mark III and 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS lens @ 265mm | Exposed 1/250 sec. @ f/5.6, ISO 200 (0EV)

Paul Lohman
Paul Lohman knocks back a Miller Lite at the conclusion of Salmon-a-Rama on July 18, 2010 in Racine, Wis. Lohman said he has participated in "every Salmon-a-Rama since 1974, and this is the best one ever." | Canon 1D Mark III and 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS lens @ 115mm | Exposed 1/160 sec. @ f/5.6, ISO 400.

Sizing up the Competition

Sizing up the winners
Sizing up the competition: Jaron Tylock of Racine, left, and Casey Panyk of Union Grove marvel at some of the top catches on display in the Salmon-a-Rama leader case on July 17, 2010 in Racine, Wis. Among the fish on display is angler Roger Hellen's potentially record-setting 41.5 pound Brown trout caught on Friday. | Canon 5D Mark II and 16-35mm f/2.8L II lens @ 23mm | Exposed 1/60 sec. @ f/2.8, ISO 2000 (0 EV)

On the last full day of the Salmon-a-Rama tournament, I found myself walking around quite a bit in search of subjects.  Most of the anglers who were focusing on fish offshore were in their boats from 5am until 8pm, coming in just before the weigh station closed at nine.  Storms are brewing tonight, putting pressure on the anglers for the last few hours before the close of Salmon-a-Rama at 11am Sunday.

I’ve been going through my photos and video (well, I’m trying my hardest with the video files–my laptop isn’t anywhere the speed of my desktop computer, and its attempts to play the 5D II video files are laughable at best), and I’m attempting to identify holes in the story that could be covered with certain content.

I know that I need another interview or two, although my video interview with co-director of Salmon-a-Rama Craig Bender was very informative.  I would like to have the perspective of a fisherman or two.  I tried tonight, but while photographing and hanging around is fine for some people, recording their voice can be asking too much.  It’s too bad, as they definitely had something to contribute, but there will be opportunities tomorrow.

I do not have a picture of anyone reeling in a fish, and on the one hand I’m nervous about this gap, and on the other I think it’s fair to say that part of the experience of fishing is waiting for a bite on the line.  It’s what people do while waiting that can be the most interesting: the relationships between anglers, be they friends or family.  The other part is the pride in the catch.  So while I don’t have that moment in between those two stages, but  it is my hope the content I do have will compensate for this shortcoming.

A world record for Brown trout?

Roger Hellen with his 41.5 pound Brown trout
Angler Roger Hellen poses with his 41.5 pound Brown trout for Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel photographer Benny Sieu at Salmon-a-Rama on July 16, 2010 in Racine, Wis. The trout, caught that morning, was speculated to be a world record-setting catch. The current record for Brown trout was set last September in the Manistee River of Michigan at 41 pounds, 7 ounces. Hellen's trout, an ounce heavier, is pending review of National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and the International Game Fish Association before it can be declared the world record for this species. | Canon 1D Mark III and 24-70mm f/2.8L lens @ 51mm | Exposed 1/800 sec. @ f/4, ISO 200 (+1 EV)

Not just any “fish story”

On the morning  of July 16, 2010, Roger Hellen set out in his boat, “Get Hooked,” with his friend Joe Miller.  He came back with what is quite possibly a world record for Brown trout: 41 pounds, 8 ounces.  The fish will likely earn Hellen the grand prize of $10,000  at Salmon-a-Rama, and also stirred up a bit of a media frenzy given the possibility of a new record for Brown trout.  The current record was set only back in September 2009 by an angler in Michigan with a 41 pound, 7 ounce Brown trout.  The catch also beats the Salmon-a-Rama record for largest fish entered in the contest which has stood since 1997.

So far, I’ve met some great people out at Salmon-a-Rama, and I think that the stories I’ve heard will be compelling for the argument that sport fishing is an important part of Lake Michigan–something that could be lost should Asian carp gain access to the Great Lakes. Continue reading “A world record for Brown trout?”

Checking in at the Weigh Station

Weighing in Lake perch at Salmon-a-Rama
Yellow perch spasm on the table while Jeff Zinuticz, center, a fishery technician for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Craig Bender, left, the co-director of Salmon-a-Rama, measure and weigh angler Joe Staszewski's catch on Thursday, July 15, 2010 in Racine, Wis. After discovering that the perch were not prize-winning, Staszewski said that "they were hitting better before, but now Salmon-a-Rama has come." | Canon 5D Mark II and 16-35mm f/2.8L II lens @ 16mm | Exposed 1/80 sec. @ f/4, ISO 800 (+1.33 EV)

Last night I had a fairly productive evening at Salmon-a-Rama.  I still need a couple of audio interviews, to gather some ambient sound, and to shoot some video, but I have the feeling it will all come together.

Some of the photos are more visual “notes” that I like the idea of an image, but that a given frame is not enough to push it into the final edit.  I’m hoping to perfect all of these frames before the week is out, although the one above may be tough to beat given that the Yellow perch (“Lake perch”) were still jumpin’ on the table!

Please scroll down for the rest of the photos and, as always, comments and criticism welcome! Continue reading “Checking in at the Weigh Station”

The Largest Fishing Tournament on the Great Lakes

Fishing poles
Fishing poles rest in one of the official buckets given to registrants of Salmon-a-Rama at Reefpoint Marina, Racine, Wis. The lines of the poles were tied off to beer bottles to alert the fishermen if a fish tugged at the bait. | Canon 1D Mark III and 70-200mm f/4L IS lens @ 89mm | Exposed 1/800 sec. @ f/4, ISO 100 (+1 EV)

The largest freshwater fishing tournament in the Great Lakes kicked off on July 10 in Racine, Wis.  One of the great concerns about the possibility of Asian Silver and Bighead carp entering into Lake Michigan is the potential for the destruction of sport fishing due to the radical changes that could happen to the food chain.  The carp are voracious filter-feeders, and could out-compete the fish that serve as “food” for the trout and salmon, and could be the final nail in the coffin for the lake perch.

It wasn’t foremost on the minds of the anglers participating in Salmon-a-Rama, but when I explained the idea of my project, there seemed to be universal concern about the invasive carp, most recently found only six miles from the shoreline of Lake Michigan.  It’s encouraging that this project is relevent even if the environmental outlook for the Great Lakes seems to be discouraging. Continue reading “The Largest Fishing Tournament on the Great Lakes”