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Winnebago systems sturgeon spearing license deadline Oct. 31
Weekly News article published: October 16, 2012 by the Central Office
New opportunities for young spearers, big fish on tap for season
OSHKOSH – The deadline to buy sturgeon spearing licenses for the 2013 Lake Winnebago System seasons is Oct. 31, with new licensing options giving more people the opportunity to join in a tradition that brings together family, friends and big fish.
For the first time in modern history, 12-year-olds can participate in the lake sturgeon spearing season if they buy a license. Also, adults whose names were drawn in the Upriver Lakes sturgeon spearing lottery can transfer their 2013 tags to youngsters, allowing youngsters a chance to spear on the lakes, where success rates have historically been higher.
The 2013 Lake Winnebago System lake sturgeon season promises spearers a record number of big fish in the fishery, including this 87.5 inch, 240-pound sturgeon DNR fish crews captured and tagged in April below the Shawano Dam.
There are separate seasons for Lake Winnebago and for the Upriver Lakes that begin at the same time, with participation in the Upriver Lakes season determined by lottery. The 2013 season open on Saturday, Feb. 9.
Spearers of all ages will find a healthy fishery that boasts a record number of big fish, including the 87.5 inch, 240-pound sturgeon DNR fish crews captured and tagged on April 10, 2012, below the Shawano Dam.
“Sturgeon spearers have a lot to look forward to for the upcoming 2013 spear fishery,” says Ryan Koenigs, sturgeon biologist stationed in Oshkosh. “The population is robust with a large percentage of trophy-fish. Last year, we had the fifth and sixth largest fish ever recorded and more than 6 percent of the fish harvested were trophy-sized and weighed more than 100 pounds.”
The trend in trophy-size fish has been increasing significantly over the last decade due to the distribution of age classes currently in the population and the impact of harvest regulations implemented over the last 20 years to increase survival of these larger fish, Koenigs says. “The fish are starting to show us their true growth potential, and I expect to continue to see larger fish in our harvest and population assessments.”
How and where to get spearing licenses
Licenses are $20 for residents and $65 for non-residents and can be purchased at any license sales location; over the Internet by going to DNR’s home page dnr.wi.gov and clicking on the online license center or by calling toll-free 1-877-WI LICENSE (1-877-945-4236.)
Under a law passed earlier this year, the minimum spearing age has changed to 12 years of age, and youth who turn 12 between Nov. 1, 2013, and the last day of the 2013 spearing season can still buy a spearing license after Oct. 31. Military personnel home on leave can also purchase a license after Oct. 31.
There are unlimited license sales on Lake Winnebago, while the Upriver Lakes fishery is managed by a lottery and limited to 500 permitted spearers. A record number of applicants (4,894) put in for a 2013 Upriver Lakes spear license before the Aug 1, 2012 deadline, 500 of which were authorized to purchase a 2013 upriver lakes permit.
Once a person is authorized to buy an Upriver Lakes license for a season, they are not able to buy a license for Lake Winnebago. Spearers are now able to transfer Upriver Lakes spear licenses to youth spearers (age 12-17), and can do so by filling a transfer of license form at least 15 days before the 2013 sturgeon spear fishery. Spearers who applied for an Upriver Lakes license in the lottery but were not authorized received a preference point and can still buy a Lake Winnebago license before Oct. 31.
A record 12,680 spearing licenses were sold for the 2012 spear fisheries on either Lake Winnebago or the Upriver Lakes. The 2012 Lake Winnebago season ran the full 16-days allowed by law; the Upriver Lakes season closed at the end of the second day, when the number of female sturgeon speared exceeded the trigger to close the season. Across both seasons, spearers harvested 566 fish, with 36 of them weighing more than 100 pounds, considered trophy size.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ryan Koenigs, 920-303-5450