Conditions Ripe for Great Sturgeon Spearing Season - WBAY

Conditions Ripe for Great Sturgeon Spearing Season

Lake Winnebago -

It's a Wisconsin winter rite of passage and it's just around the corner. Two weeks from now sturgeon spearers will take to Lake Winnebago and the upriver lakes to prepare for the sixteen day sturgeon spearing season. Conditions are so good this year, the season could end early.

After what has seemed like the coldest and longest winter, excitement is building on Lake Winnebago for sturgeon spearing season.

"It's a great activity for wintertime, obviously," says Jim Gehrke, Vice President of the Paynes Point Hook & Spear Fishing Club. "Gets you out of the house doing something. It's good economically. We generate a lot of club memberships, the local bars and restaurants generate a lot of income off of it. Overall it's just a really good activity for wintertime."

And unlike the past three years when sturgeon season has gone the full sixteen days, this year, DNR officials expect harvest caps to be reached early.

Ryan Koenigs is a sturgeon biologist with the DNR. He says, "We've got really favorable conditions for a good harvest right now. Hopefully that remains the case."

Right now there's a minimum of 18 inches of ice on Lake Winnebago. The ice came early this year and it stayed under lots of snow, leading to exceptional water clarity as well. Depths of 14 to 15 feet can be seen under the ice.

"It's probably some of the best conditions we've seen in the last decade," says Koenigs. "I remember probably four or five years ago we did have pretty good water clarity conditions that will be close to what we have now but I don't think we had the ice conditions that we have this year."

And with no relief in sight from the freezing cold forecast spearers say they're even more excited for what could be a near perfect sturgeon spearing season."

Adds Jim Gehrke, "I expect we'll see quite a few fish over a hundred pounds and who knows, maybe we'll get one or two over 200 this year."

The DNR agrees as it gears up for a sturgeon season that could bring in some record breaking fish.

Says Koenigs, "This is definitely exciting for us to be able to have the chance to showcase the population that we have out here right now."

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