Saturday (2/14/08) is opening day for the 2009 Lake Winnebago Sturgeon spearing season. Spearers can expect good spearing conditions and a lot of big fish.
"Ice and water conditions coming into the 2009 season look very good and the prospects of seeing some really big fish are excellent," says Ron Bruch, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sturgeon biologist and fisheries supervisor stationed in Oshkosh.
There's a good chance there will a new record for the largest sturgeon speared in Wisconsin, eclipsing the 188-pounder taken in 2004. The number of large fish has increased over the last 15 to 20 years due to careful management of the harvest and strong year classes of sturgeon hatched 70 to 80 years ago.
Last year, spearers registered 42 sturgeon that weighed between 100 and 172 pounds, the highest percentage of trophy-size fish ever recorded in the history of the fishery.
The Lake Winnebago seson runs from Feb. 14, 2009, through March 1, 2009, or until the pre-set harvest cap for Lake Winnebago is reached, or the pre-set harvest cap for the entire Lake Winnebago System is reached, whichever comes first.
The Upriver Lakes season runs from Feb. 14 through March 1 on Lakes Butte des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan, or until the pre-set harvest cap for the Upriver Lakes is reached, or the pre-set harvest cap for the entire Winnebago system is reached, whichever comes first.
One thing spearers will have to keep an eye on is ice conditions. Since the state has had a warm spell, certain locations on the lake have not been very good and a number of automobiles have had to be towed out of harms way.