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Sturgeon Week Features

Fishing WisconsinWinnebago System sturgeon spearing 2016

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..

The 2016 season awaits

The biggest story coming out of the 2015 season was the fish being leaner than years past.  After closer analysis of data collected during the 2015 harvest, it became abundantly clear that the forage base for sturgeon was very weak.  We knew going into the season that the gizzard shad hatch was quite weak, but I was surprised to see few chironomid (lake fly or red worms) larvae in the stomachs of the sturgeon that we sampled.  We are aware of a stronger gizzard shad hatch coming into this winter, but it doesn’t appear to be a boom year class like those observed in 2010 and 2012.  It will remain to be seen how long it will take for the sturgeon to regain condition factors similar to those observed over most of the last decade.

Looking forward to the upcoming season, there are a couple noteworthy items.  First, the adult female harvest cap has once again been raised.  System wide harvest caps for the 2016 season will be 430 juvenile females, 950 adult females, and 1220 males.   Also, a record 13,674 licenses (13,190 for Winnebago and 484 for Upriver Lakes) were sold for the 2016 season which is a 4.1% increase over last season.  The increased popularity is likely due to the overall success and publicity of the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Hopefully the weather pattern will soon change and ice will begin forming for the 2016 spearing season.  I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable spearing season and hopefully our paths will cross in the coming months.  I always enjoy hearing stories about more memories being created during spearing seasons, so let’s make the 2016 sturgeon spearing season another season to remember!

---- Ryan Koenigs, Winnebago sturgeon biologist 

Lake Winnebago system sturgeon spearing regulations 2016

The 2016 Lake Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing Regulations [PDF]

2015 sturgeon spearing season summaries

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]

2016 Lake Winnebago

Daily harvest Season harvest Harvest cap
Juvenile females     344
Adult females     855
Males     976
Totals     -

2016 Upriver Lakes

Daily harvest Season harvest Harvest cap
Juvenile females     86
Adult females     95
Males     244
Totals     -

2016 Winnebago system sturgeon season summary report

Coming soon!

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 2016 season

A record 13,674 licenses were sold for the 2016 sturgeon spearing season on the Winnebago System (13,190 licenses for Lake Winnebago; 484 licenses for Upriver Lakes).  License sales this year were a 4.1% increase over the 2015 season and a 15.6% increase over the 2014 season.  The overall increase in effort is attributable to the overall spearing success of last two spearing seasons where spearers benefited from strong ice conditions and clear water.  The spear fishery on the Upriver Lakes continues to receive a lot of interest with 5,981 people applying for a chance to spear the Upriver Lakes.

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: Friday February 05 2016