Sturgeon Spearing Season Ends After 6 Days

Thanks To Clear Water And Good Ice Conditions, Season Ends Up As One Of Shortest On Record

Ice shanties set up by sturgeon spearers on Lake Winnebago. Photo: Royal Broil (CC-BY-SA)

Wisconsin’s 2014 sturgeon season closed on Thursday after harvest limits were met.

The season opened last Saturday and ended quickly, especially for those who drew licenses on “up-river” lakes – that season closed after just three days. The season on Lake Winnebago, which is where most spearers pursue sturgeon, closed on Thursday after six days.

Ryan Koenigs, a sturgeon biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource, said this was one of the shortest sturgeon seasons in recent memory.

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“We knew it was going to be a busy season because water clarity was favorable for spearers and we had great ice conditions as well,” said Murray. “We were anticipating a short busy season and that’s exactly what happened.”

In 2002, the DNR instituted a six-hour daily time limit for spearers, which normally would drag the season out, but not this year. Koenigs said 1,513 of the big fish were killed on Lake Winnebago, with another 341 upriver.

He says some long time sturgeon enthusiasts finally got their catches.

“We’ve had a couple of stories come in – one from Stockbridge of a gentleman who’d been spearing 42 years and he finally got his first fish this year,” said Koenigs. “The following day I got an email from another spearer who knew of another gentleman who’d been going for 55 years and he got his first fish on Lake Winnebago this year. He had in the past harvested two fish from the up-river lakes but it was his first on Lake Winnebago.”

It is generally thought to be more challenging to get a fish on Winnebago than on the smaller up-river lakes.

Size-wise, Koenigs said there were no records broken, though he said three or four fish weighed in at more than 150 pounds.