The economy has people making sacrifices, but the upcoming sturgeon-spearing season isn't one of them. Department of Natural Resources Sturgeon Biologist Ron Bruch says typically, when there is a downturn in the economy, they see an increase in hunting and fishing license sales.
"I think it's a function of there might be people that are laid off, they've got more time, or they want to simply go out and get some food for the family," says Bruch. The modern sturgeon-spearing season began in 1932, and Bruch notes that season was initiated as part of an economic relief bill. "After we had a closure from 1915 to 1932, the first modern-day season was actually opened on Lake Winnebago as part of an economic relief bill passed by the Wisconsin legislature," he says. "It wasn't to give us this recreation fishery, it was opened up so people could have fish to eat."
License application numbers back up Bruch's comments. About 10,000 license applications were taken out for the Lake Winnebago season, and another 4,000 applied for the lottery for licenses on the upriver lakes. Bruch says the increase for licenses on Lake Winnebago are up about 9 percent. The season starts on Valentine's Day, Saturday, February 14th.