Just a short drive away during the spring and fall months there is a great family adventure awaiting. In Kewaunee, about an hour away from the Fox Cities is the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Besadny Anadromous Fisheries Facility (BAFF). Since 1996, fish spawning has been clearly visible from this area. This facility gives your family a chance to get outdoors and learn about an amazing part of our region’s natural history. By the time you leave, you will have named numerous fish and cheered them on as they fight their way upstream!
Fish Spawning: An Egg-cellent Adventure
Fish spawning is the term used when fish lay their eggs in the wild. This yearly event plays a vital role in maintaining Great Lakes sports fishing for coho and chinook salmon, and some brown trout.
Because the streams get too warm for the young trout or salmon to survive, the DNR helps maintain the fish population. They do this by spawning the adults, hatching the eggs, and rearing them. Then in early spring when the fish are six inches long they are ready to smolt and trade in their large dark spots for a silvery sheen. The DNR then returns these fish into tributaries of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior where they imprint on the scent of the water before moving into the lakes. When the fish are adults, they return to those familiar streams to spawn.
At BAFF, Trout and salmon migrating from Lake Michigan are led by flowing water past two underwater viewing windows in a fish ladder that leads them to six collection ponds. Fish are moved from the ponds into the processing building where their eggs are collected and the process continues. The process is not only important for the fish population but it is also an important part of data collection to track environmental trends.
At BAFF, you will find information and educational displays that lead visitors on a self-guided tour and provide basic information on fish life history, facility operation, and other related subjects. The self-guided tour takes visitors near the dam, along the bypass channel to the underwater viewing windows and up the fish ladder to six holding ponds. You can then enter the lobby area where you can watch the spawning crew at work through large viewing windows. Also, just in case you needed to stretch your legs a little longer, there are nature trails you can hike. Please note that fish are not always present at the facility. Calling ahead is always a good idea, (920)388-1025.
You can see egg-taking procedures at the state egg-taking sites:
C.D. Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility
- Species: Steelhead and brown trout, Coho and chinook salmon, spotted muskellunge and lake sturgeon
- Location: 3884 Ransom Moore Lane – off of County Highway F, west of Kewaunee, on the west bank of the Kewaunee River, Kewaunee County
- Dates: March – December, public viewing window open at all times
- Hours: Site is open daily, dawn to dusk. Building is open 8 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday
- Telephone: (920)388-1025
- Note: Call ahead for tour information (minimum 10 people).
Download a fish poster to learn more our Wisconsin fish series from the Wisconsin DNR here.
Thanks to our Guest Writer!
Therese Freund Probst