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Lake Sturgeon - Fishing

The world record lake sturgeon taken by hook and line - weighing 170 pounds, 10 ounces - came from Wisconsin's Yellow Lake in Burnett County in 1979. To catch a comparable trophy (or one more modest), use a fairly stiff casting rod and plenty of 40 to 50-pound test line. Bait a 2/0 short-shank hook with nightcrawlers, dead minnows, or other natural food items, and keep the bait on the bottom.

In February, sturgeon can be speared through the ice on Lake Winnebago and the upriver lakes (Poygan, Winneconne, and Big Lake Butte des Morts). Spears with wood or metal handles six to nine feet long with three to eight barbed tines are used to catch the sturgeon through holes in the ice about three feet wide and five feet long. The handle detaches when a fish is speared, making it possibe to play the fish on a long line. The record lake sturgeon speared in Wisconsin is a 212 -pounder taken in 2010 from Lake Winnebago.

Lake sturgeon meat is firm and coarse, and it's delicious baked, smoked, boiled, dried, fried, pickled, or barbecued. Sturgeon eggs, freed from ovarian membranes and pickled in brine, become the much sought-after delicacy called caviar.

It's illegal to sell the flesh or roe of a lake sturgeon in Wisconsin. There are strict bag, length, and length-of-season limits to prevent depletion of sturgeon stocks. Sturgeon poaching used to be a serious problem, but with an increased awareness of the sturgeon's plight and the advent of the sturgeon guard program, its impact on sturgeon populations has been greatly reduced.

Contact information
For more information, please contact:
Karl Scheidegger
Fisheries biologist
Last revised: Friday August 31 2012