Slow first weekend of sturgeon spearing

FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) -- The first weekend of the 2018 sturgeon spearing season is now in the books after hundreds of fishermen and woman took to the ice this weekend for a chance to snag a sturgeon.

The second day started off rather light, the Department of Natural Resources saying that’s likely because of murky water clarity across Lake Winnebago.

Action 2 News crews were on Lake Winnebago all weekend, where many spearers complained about the water clarity, saying the water only becomes clearer the more south you travel.

The DNR says this year’s clarity is the worst it’s been since 2006.

Even if it was slow going, the DNR says 56 sturgeon were harvested on Sunday on Lake Winnebago, and the Upriver Lakes produced 68 fish.

“In the last 20 years, I would say, this is probably one of the slower years,” says Ryan Zernzach, Fisheries Technician, Department of Natural Resources.

By mid-afternoon on Sunday, scales were bulking up with size.

The biggest sturgeon speared on Sunday weighed in at 147.3 pounds and 77.5 inches long. It was speared by Joseph Orlando and registered at Critter's. The two largest fish of the weekend were registered at that location.

The largest fish harvested on Lake Winnebago on Sunday was a 122.1 pound 72.1 inch female. The fish was registered at Wendt's by Joseph Kowalkowski.

“[The water is] dirty, you know. But you see a big black ghost come through, you know you can’t miss it,” says William Bruley, who snagged an 87 pound sturgeon near Jerry’s Bar in Oshkosh.

Bruley says this is the second sturgeon he’s speared, but the largest one he’s ever gotten his hands on.

Just north, at Payne’s Point in Neenah, Peggy Kasuboski registered a 49 pound sturgeon, marking her third sturgeon in the past 18 years.

“[My husband] was like, 'Do you see it? Do you see it?’ And then finally I did, so he's like, 'Throw it!' So I threw the spear, and viola,” she says, referencing her 61 inch sturgeon.

The DNR says this year’s season will likely run until the last day, Sunday February 25th, because many stations have been seeing fewer sturgeon than usual.

Joseph Orlando speared the biggest sturgeon on Sunday. 147.3 pounds and 77.5 inches. The fish was registered at Critter's.