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Sturgeon Week Features

Fishing WisconsinWinnebago System sturgeon spearing 2015

Big fish to date

Chad Cherney’s  81.3” female topped the scales at 137.5 pounds, making his fish the largest fish harvested during the 2015 season..

It's over! - February 21

The 2015 sturgeon spearing season is now complete and I think this season will be looked upon fondly by many spearers.  Today was by far the nicest weather of the season, which was a nice change from the very cold temperatures most of the last 7 days.  An additional 136 sturgeon were harvested today, bringing the season total to 2,158 fish harvested during the season (1,870 from Lake Winnebago and 288 from the Upriver Lakes).   The 1,870 fish harvested from Lake Winnebago ranks this season as the 6th highest harvest on record from the 1940-2015 harvest seasons [PDF].  That’s really pretty impressive when you consider that’s 75 spearing seasons, the majority of which had longer spearing days, no harvest caps, and seasons that were longer than 16 days.  

Coming into today, I was anticipating an increase in spearing effort and in turn an increase in harvest given that today was a Saturday.  However, that was not the case and today’s harvest numbers were actually one of the lowest of any day this season. 

The season may be over, but our work at the DNR is just getting started.  We will be cleaning up our registration stations this week and then get started on the data entry and report writing.  I hope to have the spearing data entered and spearer list drafted within the next 2 weeks, but it will be quite time consuming given the number of fish harvested and other commitments that myself and staff have over the next couple of weeks.  I will be sending out updates and summary reports as they become available over the next month or so.

Thank you to all of the spearers out there for making 2015 a safe, successful, and enjoyable sturgeon spearing season. 

---- Ryan Koenigs, Winnebago sturgeon biologist 

History of the Upriver Lakes sturgeon spear fishery and trends in the modern era

More information about the history of the Upriver Lakes spear fishery can be viewed in the document History of the Upriver Lakes Sturgeon Spear Fishery and Trends in the Modern Era. [PDF]

Of red worms or gizzard shad: Where did the big fish go in 2015?

If you have been at one of the 11 DNR sturgeon registration stations during the 2015 sturgeon spearing season you have likely heard the discussion about the leaner fish this year due to the lack of gizzard shad. This may have you wondering more about sturgeon foraging trends and research being conducted to monitor those trends.Well my colleagues and I read more [PDF] Where did all the big fish go in 2015? Follow up [PDF]


2015 Lake Winnebago - season closed February 21

Daily harvest Season harvest Harvest cap
Juvenile females 19 275 344
Adult females 58 828 790
Males 59 767 1000
Totals 136 1870 -

2015 Upriver Lakes - Season closed February 18

Daily harvest Season harvest Harvest cap
Juvenile females 0 33 86
Adult females 4 83 88
Males 10 172 250
Totals 14 288 -

2015 Winnebago system sturgeon season summary report - February 21

2015 Winnebago system sturgeon spearing summary [PDF]

Lake Winnebago system sturgeon spearing regulations 2015

The 2015 Lake Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing Regulations [PDF]

Sturgeon shanty rentals

If you or someone you know rents shanties for the spearing season on Lake Winnebago and/or the Upriver Lakes, please send the contact information to Ryan Koenigs. Shanty rental information is very popular (and helpful) to first-time sturgeon spearers.

Sturgeon license sales for 2015 season

A record 13,134 licenses were sold for the 2015 sturgeon spearing season on Lake Winnebago (12,650 licenses) and the Upriver Lakes (484 licenses).  The 11% increase in license sales over the 2014 season is attributable to the overall spearing success of last year’s season.  Water clarity and ice conditions for the 2014 season were the best they had been in five years, which resulted in a successful season for many spearers.  The popularity of the Upriver Lakes lottery fishery continues to grow, as a record 6,466 people applied for an Upriver Lakes license (of which only 500 licenses are authorized for purchase).

Sturgeon spearing culture

The ice-fishing season for lake sturgeon is more about getting together and fishing together than harvesting a lunker.

Contact information
For more information, please contact:
Karl Scheidegger
Fisheries biologist
Last revised: Saturday February 21 2015