For the second year in a row a record number of Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing licenses have been sold; 12,680 people bought licenses, up from the previous record of just over 12,423 set last year. It’s also an increase of 50 percent since 2007.
DNR Fisheries Supervisor Ron Bruch cites “public ownership” as a reason for the program’s popularity. He says the agency sets policy based largely in input received through the Winnebago Citizens’ Sturgeon Advisory Committee and Sturgeons for Tomorrow.
Bruch adds the sturgeon population is as robust as it’s been since the 1800s with DNR assessments showing a number of 200-pounders in the water.
With spotty winter conditions this year, Bruch advises spearers to be extra cautious when cutting into the ice. Due to an algae bloom earlier this winter he says water clarity in the system is “marginal right now but they look to be improving.”
The season begins February 11 to February 26 or until spearers reach the harvest caps.