DNR Sells Record Number Of Sturgeon Spearing Licenses

Total Of 13K Sold For Lake Winnebago, A Few Hundred More For Nearby Lakes

Logan Sikora registers a sturgeon
In this photo, Logan Sikora registers a sturgeon in Winneconne during the 2015 spearing season. AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger

A record number of licenses have been sold for the sturgeon spearing season, which opens early Saturday morning on Lake Winnebago and adjacent waters.

The Department of Natural Resources sold more than 13,000 licenses for spearing on Lake Winnebago. It also divvied up nearly 500 additional licenses for the shallower, upriver lakes Buttes Des Morts, Poygan, and Winneconne.

Ryan Koenigs, a sturgeon biologist with the DNR, said Winnebago has one of North America’s most vibrant populations of Lake Sturgeon.

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“We estimate we have about 44,000 adult fish in the system. And then you probably have tens of thousands additional fish that are immature,” he said.

Koenigs said the smaller lakes give spearers a better shot at getting one of the big fish.

“The success rate on the upriver lakes is usually about 60 percent,” he said. “However, Lake Winnebago is much deeper — most of the lake is in excess of 12 feet. A lot of it is deeper than 16 feet. So you know you’ve got to have better clarity to be able to see the fish.”

That leaves chances of spearing a fish on Winnebago at around 12 percent, according to Koenigs. Koenigs noted that water clarity on the whole is good this year.

The season will close after spearers catch about 2,600 fish, or after 16 days — whichever comes first.