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Sturgeon Week Features

Fishing WisconsinWinnebago System sturgeon spearing 2018

Big fish to date

Gerald Peterson’s 154.9-pound, 83.4-inch female was the largest fish of the 2017 sturgeon spearing season.

It's coming - February 10, 2018

The 2018 sturgeon spearing season on Lake Winnebago and the Upriver Lakes is only a little over a month away, starting on Saturday February 10.  We've experienced some very cold weather the last few weeks and have some pretty thick ice developed throughout the system.  In fact, some of the local fishing clubs and conservation groups have already put out their tree lines and are now maintaining access points and plowed roads.  From what I've heard, Lake Winnebago is pretty rough though and there are quite a few cracks, so be sure to use caution and remember no ice is every 100% safe.

Many spearers are starting to wonder about water clarity so we had one of our technicians check clarity in a couple of locations on January 8.  In the locations checked, clarity ranged from 7.5-10.5' with quite a bit of variability.  This is a very small sample size, but it appears that clarity is not great at this point in time.  Hopefully things will improve a bit over the next month.  We will be checking clarity again during the week leading up to the season and I will be sure to send out that update once it becomes available. 

--- Ryan Koenigs, Oshkosh

Lake Winnebago system sturgeon spearing regulations 2018

The 2018 Lake Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing Regulations [PDF]

2018 Lake Winnebago - season totals

Daily harvest Season harvest Harvest cap
Juvenile females 0 0 344
Adult females 0 0 855
Males 0 0 960
Totals 0 0 -

2017 Upriver Lakes - season totals

Daily harvest Season harvest Harvest cap
Juvenile females 0


Adult females 0


Males 0 0 240


0 -

2017 Winnebago system sturgeon season summary reports

Tagging your sturgeon

What you need to know [PDF]

2016 Winnebago system sturgeon vignettes

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 2017 season

Interest in sturgeon spearing continues to be strong with 12,962 licenses sold for the 2017 season, including 12,479 for Lake Winnebago and 483 for the Upriver Lakes.

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]

2015 sturgeon spearing season summaries

Sturgeon spearing culture

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

Sturgeon guard

There are two critical time periods for collecting data from our sturgeon population, the annual spearing season and spring spawning assessments.  Each year thousands of lake sturgeon migrate up the tributaries of the Winnebago System (Wolf, upper Fox, Embarrass and Little Wolf Rivers most notably) to spawn. The sturgeon spawn along rocky shorelines on outside river bends and literally spawn at your feet.  This provides a great opportunity to view sturgeon spawning in the wild, which is an experience not available anywhere else in North America.  However, poaching has historically been a concern given the vulnerability of these majestic fish during spawning.  The Sturgeon Guard program was implemented to curtail the illegal activity and protect these fish during spawning periods.  At first, law enforcement officers would monitor known spawning sites, but it was difficult for the warden staff to cover all of the known spawning areas with a limited work force.  The Sturgeon Guard program then went public and the rest is history.  The general public can now sign up for 12-hour shifts to watch sturgeon spawn and protect the fish from harassment and other illegal activity.  There are hundreds of folks who sign up every year for this opportunity, and this really is an example of a successful collaboration between the community and the DNR that has helped the population significantly increase!  As the spearing season draws near the end, I thought it would be beneficial to highlight a potential next opportunity for folks interested in sturgeon and that opportunity is volunteering through the Sturgeon Guard program.

Contact information
For more information, please contact:
Karl Scheidegger
Fisheries biologist
Last revised: Friday January 19 2018