Growing big fish
Most fish grow fast as young fish and much more slowly as they reach maturity. Then they put most of any energy not spent just sustaining themselves toward reproductive development.
Fish, like humans, grow to a certain maximum size as an individual and then, also like humans, go up and down in weight depending on what is happening in their lives from year to year.
Unlike humans, female sturgeon typically grow to a much larger size, and possibly older age, than males.
Both male and female lake sturgeon in the Winnebago System grow fast at the same rate as young fish from hatching to about age 7 or so when they reach 30-31 inches and enter puberty. Then their growth slows down. It takes them the next 7 years to grow another 10 inches to reach 40 inches.
By age 14 some males are mature, although less than half, and none of the females are mature. Females begin maturing at about age 21, 48 inches in length, about half are mature at age 27, 55 inches, and the latest ones don’t spawn for the first time until they are age 33 or so and 60 inches in total length.
Buy “People of the Sturgeon: Wisconsin's Love Affair with an Ancient Fish”
Audio Book: $34.95
Read, view pictures, and hear the sturgeon stories and remembrances from spearers, decoy makers, conservation wardens, fish biologists and more. A portion of the proceeds go to help fund Lake Winnebago Sturgeon management.
Get 2013 harvest numbers and season notes
The Winnebago System sturgeon spearing 2013 web page is updated daily with harvest numbers and interesting tidbits from the season.
The "hundred-pounder" club grows bigger
Joining the ranks of those skilled and lucky spearers in the ” hundred-pounder club” has been many spearers’ dream since the Winnebago sturgeon spear fishery reopened in 1932 after its closure to harvest in 1915.
More spearers are living the dream these days. Careful management of the sturgeon population by DNR and citizen partners and a harvest cap system have resulted in a lot of very large fish in the population. Last year, 6.3 percent of the sturgeon harvested exceeded 100 pounds, up from a more typical 1 percent. And seven of the 10 largest fish harvested since 1932 have been speared in the last three years.
View our playlist to see how the table has been set for a record-breaking season if ice conditions and water clarity allow. DNR, conservation organizations and citizens have carefully managed the Lake Winnebago System sturgeon population to help it become the world's largest, and full of trophy-sized fish.
New this year DNR offers a sturgeon hotline for callers to get daily updates on harvest numbers and fish of note.
Free Harvest Updates
To get this free enhanced service, subscribe and choose either email or wireless (SMS/text) alert.
Sign up for Sturgeon Guard
Help protect lake sturgeon along the Wolf River when they are most vulnerable during their spring migration. Sign up for a 12-hour shift and see this ancient species up close.
Register by calling the DNR Call Center toll-free at 1-888-936-7463. Fill out and email the 2013 Sturgeon Guard Sign-up Sheet.
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