Several Big Fish Harvested on Sturgeon Spearing Season Opener - WBAY

Several Big Fish Harvested on Sturgeon Spearing Season Opener

Lake Winnebago -

Sturgeon spearing season opens Saturday with some of the best conditions in years. People packed registrations stations where dozens of sturgeon came in for weighing. The Department of Natural Resources anticipates reaching harvest caps earlier this year.

On opening day of sturgeon spearing, registration stations on Lake Winnebago were busy with the first spearers sharing the excitement of a one-of-a-kind tradition.

Martin Franzen has been spearing the last 30 years.

This season, he's proud to take home a sturgeon weighing 129 pounds.

"This is my biggest fish yet," Franzen said. "I was just going to change the radio station and I happened to glance back, just before I got back to the back of the shanty, and I seen something coming in..I walked back and speared it."

Many spearers say the excellent water clarity helped them to set their own personal records.

"We can see the bottom where we are in 18 feet of water, so that helps. Some years it's five, six feet of clarities," Tyler Gruett of Plymouth, said.

The DNR says the biggest harvest numbers usually come in on opening day.

"We've got probably 50 to 75 fish waiting in line over at our Wendt's station, and we've already worked through probably 70 fish there this morning," Ryan Koenigs, DNR Lake Winnebago Sturgeon Biologist, said.

Koenigs predicts this season won't go the full 16 days, and spearers will reach harvest caps early.

"Conditions were indicating we were going to have somewhere in the four to eight day range for the season. Now, based on the number of fish that are coming in today, we're probably still in that range," he said.

Already, for some, spearing a sturgeon happened quicker this time compared to past seasons.

"The last two years, I've sat for 16 days, the whole season and didn't get one, didn't see one. It's pretty nice to get one this quick," Gruett said.

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