Got license?
Give yourself the license to relax and catch some memories while you're at it.
Regulations
Know the regulations to make your fishing more enjoyable.
Places to fish
Wisconsin offers a variety of fishing opportunities. Give them a try!
Get started
Get the basic information you need to get on the water and try your luck.

Lake Sturgeon - Life Cycle

Lake sturgeon migrate to their annual spawning grounds between late April and early June, preferring to spawn in shallow, rocky areas along river banks. Sturgeon spawning is dependent on water temperature and flow. During seasons when water flow is high and water temperatures rise slowly spawning begins when water temperature reaches 53 degrees F. In contrast, during seasons of low water flow and more rapid water temperature rise, spawning does not begin until water temperatures reach 58-59 degrees F.

Males arrive at the spawning sites ahead of the females, cruising in groups of eight or more, often so close to the surface that their tails, backs, or snouts are out of the water. Spawning begins as soon as a ripe (sexually ready) female enters the group. The males swim alongside the female, usually against the current, vigorously thrashing their tails as they release milt (sperm) while the female drops her eggs. The fertilized eggs, each about one-eighth inch in diameter, are sticky and cling to rocks and other solid materials in the water until they hatch. There is considerable variation in the number of eggs produced by the females of the same weight - the quantity can range from 50,000 to 700,000 eggs in one season.

The eggs hatch in five to eight days, depending on the water temperature. In 12 to 14 days, the fry (newly hatched fish) are one inch long and have fully developed mouths and barbels.

Spawning frequency - A female sturgeon reaches sexual maturity when she is 24 to 26 years old and about 55 inches long, and will spawn once every four, five, or six years thereafter. Males mature at about 15 years, when they are about 45 inches long. Most males spawn every other year, while some do so every year.

Lake sturgeon grow larger and live longer than any other fish in Wisconsin. Females live longer than males; 97% of all sturgeon over 30 years old are females. An 82-year-old caught in Lake Winnebago in 1953 is on record as the oldest lake sturgeon in Wisconsin - a mere whippersnapper when compared to the 152-year-old, 215-pound, 81-inch long old-timer hauled up from the bottom of Lake of the Woods in Ontario, Canada that same year.

At first, lake sturgeon grow more rapidly in length than in weight, but this trend is reversed as the fish ages. Growth depends on several factors, including water temperature and available food.

Age (years) Length (inches)
1 11.0
3 23.0
5 33.0
10 40.0
15 47.0
20 51.0
25 56.0
Contact information
For more information, please contact:
Karl Scheidegger
Fisheries biologist
Last revised: Friday August 31 2012