May 30th, 2014 –

Tiny walleye neighbors arrive
By Brandon Veale – DMG Sports Editor ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

CHASSELL – The population of the Copper Country grew by about 1.1 million Thursday afternoon.

Didn’t notice? Well, that’s because the new residents are only about 7 millimeters long.
Walleye Fry Planting

Volunteers from the Copper Country Walleye Association fanned out across the Keweenaw Waterway to give these fry a home. It’s part of an ongoing collaborative effort between the CCWA and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to bolster the quality of the region’s walleye fishery, and it’s starting to pay off.
Article Photos

Top photo, Copper Country Walleye Association president Ross Rinkinen shows son Calvin some of the 1.1 million walleye fry stocked into local waterways Thursday at their meeting point in Chassell Centennial Park. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)

“The overall consensus was even the ice fishermen were getting undersized fish and that’s something we can really be optimistic about,” CCWA president Ross Rinkinen said.

Hooking a bunch of sub-legal walleye might not appear to be a good sign, but that could mean that fry stocked in previous years are growing and more young fish are approaching adulthood.

These newcomers came via truck from the Thompson State Fish Hatchery in Schoolcraft County. Eggs were collected in the Bays de Noc, processed in Thompson and hit the road 21 days after hatching. In the process, the fry are treated with oxytetracycline, an antibiotic that also leaves a chemical trace in the fish’s vertebrae. That’s important because when DNR fisheries personnel want to measure the effectiveness of stocking efforts, they can find the markers on the fish they stocked to differentiate them from the fish that have reproduced in the water naturally.

Retired DNR fisheries biologist and club member Tom Rozich said years of scientific data shows the Portage Lake-Torch Lake chain doesn’t generate enough young fish on its own to keep the population at desired levels.

“To create a good walleye fishery here, you need to stock,” he said.

Given how young they are, it’s critical to get the fry off to a good start. The dozen or so volunteers set out for specific points in the chain to release the fish from their travel bags. The run of recent warm, calm days will increase their odds of survival particularly in shallow pockets where the water is already warming and plankton, a critical food source for fish so small, are blooming.

“It is, on the local level, the people that know the water best. In this effort we’re looking for the warmest water with the plankton growth,” Rinkinen said.

In a few weeks, the CCWA will also stock fingerlings, which are about 1 1/4 to 2 inches long. It’s part of a multi-pronged volunteer effort to make for better local walleye fishing in the years to come.

“What we’ve seen, as they stopped stocking for a number of years, we saw the population come down so we knew, ‘Hey, we need to get more fish into the system.’ As a club, we thought what better way can we support the population and the fishery and that’s by volunteering and forming a club and meeting with the DNR,” Rinkinen said.

July 14th, 2012 –

The 2012 Angler and Young Angler tournament is in the books and was a success by all counts. A big thanks to all of our sponsors, volunteers, and participants. Owen VanTassell and his Dad Miles came in with the winning bag of 11.05 lbs followed by Helene Rinkanen who led her dad Ross to 2nd at 9.05 lbs and Emma and Cooper Stout how showed their dad Luke where to find 8.05 lbs of fish and take 3rd.

May 18th 2012 –

Hopes high for walleye season

CHASSELL – An early spring only increased anticipation for Tuesday’s walleye opener, and now that the wait is finally over, local anglers are hitting the water hoping to take advantage of an improving Keweenaw fishery.

“The opener is such an important day for so many people around here and business and cabin owners along the water,” Copper Country Walleye Association President Ross Rinkinen said. “It’s not often you can wear shorts and a T-shirt in May on the opener.”

Rinkinen caught a few walleye on Gratiot and Portage lakes during opening day, but despite the near-70-degree temperatures and water temperatures hovering around 60, results were mixed due to a low local walleye population.  Read More Here



May 1st 2012 –






CHASSELL – With hopes they will survive, 1.5 million walleye were planted by the Copper Country Walleye Association in Portage Lake Monday, starting with a couple hundred thousand in Chassell Bay.

The fish, a quarter-inch in size, came from Thompson State Fish Hatchery in Manistique and the fish plant is an initiative put forth by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Read the Full Article Here



1) Helped the DNR release 100,000 fry in portage lake
2) Helped the DNR release 11,300 fingelings into portage lake

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AYA Tournament

Date: Saturday July 25th, 2020
Fishing Location: Any lakes in Houghton, Baraga, and Keweenaw Counties.
No in-person gatherings associated with the tournament.

Entry Form On “Tournaments” Link from Main Page