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Weekly News Published - February 5, 2019 by the Central Office

 

Excitement builds for spearers ahead of the Feb. 9 Lake Winnebago System Sturgeon Season opener

Contact(s): Ryan Koenigs, DNR Lake Winnebago sturgeon biologist, Ryan.Koenigs@wisconsin.gov, 920-303-5450

OSHKOSH, Wis. - February marks the most wonderful time of the year for sturgeon spearers as Wisconsin's season opens Feb. 9 on the Lake Winnebago system.

The Winnebago System is home to one of the world's largest self-sustaining populations of lake sturgeon, with an estimated 19,500 adult females and 24,500 adult males, and a unique spearing season dating back more than 85 years.

"In 2019, spearers will have another great opportunity to renew traditions and go after some really big fish," says Ryan Koenigs, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources sturgeon biologist.

Kyle Jenkins 84.5-inch sturgeon. - Photo credit: DNR
Kyle Jenkins 84.5-inch sturgeon.Photo credit: DNRKyle Jenkins 84.5-inch sturgeon. - Photo credit: DNR
Benjamin Berger 75.6-inch sturgeon.Photo credit: DNR

Forty-three fish exceeding 100 pounds were harvested in 2018, including a 75.6-inch, 155.6-pound fish harvested by Benjamin Berger and a 84.5-inch, 143.7-pound fish taken by Kyle Jenkins.

"As always, water clarity and ice conditions determine spearer success -- mild weather in December and January have delayed ice formation and thus DNR staff have not collected water quality data," said Koenigs. "Anecdotal reports from locals indicate poor water clarity with reports of 5-9 feet of visibility being common. Water clarity on Lake Winnebago averaged 6.5 feet during the 2018 spearing season with a total harvest of 654 fish. Given current conditions, a similar harvest is anticipated at this time."

Interest in sturgeon spearing continues to be strong: 12,897 licenses (12,411 for Lake Winnebago and 486 for the Upriver Lakes) were sold for the 2019 season. Resident licenses were sold to spearers in 70 out of 72 Wisconsin counties and non-resident licenses represent33 states.

"What we do know is that spearers continually tell us that it's the chance to get together with family and friends, to relive old memories and create new ones that keeps them coming back year after year," said Koenigs.

The success of the Winnebago fishery and the fish population is a testament to the successful co-management of the sturgeon resource among DNR staff, public stakeholder groups, and a passionate general public.

"These are really the good old days when it comes to sturgeon spearing on the Winnebago System," Koenigs says. "There are more fish in the system now than there have been for decades and more big fish than we have had at least since the early 1900s. In fact, 22.7 percent of the female sturgeon handled during 2018 spawning stock assessments were larger than 70 inches."

Season and license details

Sturgeon spearing opens at 7 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 and may run for up to 16 days (through Feb. 24). However, an early closure may be triggered if pre-set harvest caps are reached. If early closure occurs, notices will be posted and the sturgeon spearing webpage will be updated at dnr.wi.gov, keyword "sturgeon." A helpful sturgeon spearing email list is also available to provide instant email notifications.

The system-wide harvest caps remain unchanged from 2018: 430 juvenile females, 950 adult females and 1,200 males.

To spear sturgeon, participants must possess a sturgeon spearing license and tag. Spearing hours run from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and all sturgeon must be presented at a DNR operated registration station by 2 p.m. of the same day the fish is harvested.

Successful spearers must immediately validate their carcass tag by removing the validation stub - a validated carcass tag does not need to be attached to a harvested fish before registration, as long as the spearer stays with the fish until registration. However, the harvest tag must be attached to the sturgeon if the spearer leaves the fish prior to registration. DNR staff recommend that spearers bring a clear plastic zip-top bag and tie to protect and secure the paper tag to the fish.

More details about sturgeon spearing throughout the Lake Winnebago system, including the complete 2019 rules and a list of the 10 registration station locations, can be found at keywords "Winnebago system sturgeon."

To learn more about sturgeon management in Wisconsin, be sure to check out an episode of the Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcast featuring Ryan Koenigs. Podcasts are available on YouTube, iTunes, Stitcher and PodBean.


Wild Wisconsin: Sturgeon in Wisconsin

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Prehn elected chair of Wisconsin Natural Resources Board

Contact(s): Laurie Ross, NRB liaison, 608-267-7420 or Andrew Savagian, DNR Office of Communications, 608-261-6422

MADISON - Dr. Frederick Prehn was elected chair of the seven-member Wisconsin Natural Resources Board at its Jan. 23 meeting in Madison. Prehn, who has a dental practice in Wausau and runs a cranberry company in Monroe County, was appointed in May 2015 and his term expires May 2021. He replaces Terry Hilgenberg, a Realtor from Shawano, who will continue to serve as a board member through 2023.

Dr. Prehn - Photo credit: Contributed
Dr. Frederick PrehnPhoto credit: Contributed

Along with his dental practice, Prehn is a member of Cranberry Growers Cooperative which represents 35 growers selling cranberry products in 23 countries. He introduced wind and solar energy on a large scale to the cranberry industry and runs two large wind generators and solar array on his farm. He also served on the Wisconsin Cranberry Board that funds research, education, and promotion of Wisconsin cranberries. Prehn is an avid outdoorsman and has held Wisconsin hunting and fishing licenses for over 48 years. He is an active member of many conservation groups such as Whitetails Unlimited, Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, and Ducks Unlimited.

Gregory Kazmierski, president and owner of Buck Rub Outfitters Ltd. in Pewaukee was elected vice-chair; his term runs through May 2023. Julie Anderson, director of Racine County Public Works and Development Services, was re-elected board secretary; her term runs through May 2021.

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board sets policy for the Department of Natural Resources; state law delineates the formal duties of the seven-member board. Board members are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the state senate. Three members each must be selected from the northern and southern portions of Wisconsin and one member serves at large. Terms expire on May 1.

More information about board members, including bios, as well as board meeting dates, locations, agendas and meeting minutes are available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "NRB."

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DNR Secretary Cole announces additional appointments to leadership team

Contact(s): Andrew Savagian, DNR Office of Communications, 608-261-6422

MADISON - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary-designee Preston Cole today announced additional appointments to his leadership team. All three individuals will start in their new roles February 17.

Scott Loomans has been named division administrator for the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Division. Loomans has been a policy initiatives advisor in the secretary's office, and prior to that worked for 11 years on policies and rules in the DNR's Fish, Wildlife & Parks Division. He also worked for nine years for the State Assembly's Natural Resources Committee. He majored in journalism at UW-Stevens Point.

Dave Siebert has been named division administrator for the External Services Division. Siebert has been the director of the Environmental Analysis and Sustainability Program since 2004, where he focused on a number of environmental issues, including environmental impact analyses, complex project reviews, energy and utility projects and social science research. Siebert has worked for the DNR for over 27 years, and prior to that worked for U.S. EPA in their Region 5 office in Chicago working on environmental analysis of federally-funded wastewater projects. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science from Bowling Green State University and a Master of Science degree in water resources management from UW-Madison.

Darsi Foss has been named division administrator for the Environmental Management Division. Foss has been the director of the Remediation and Redevelopment Program since 2014, and served as the RR Program's Brownfields Section chief from 1998-2014. Prior to coming to the DNR in 1989, she worked at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., as a policy analyst and presidential management intern. Foss has a Bachelor of Science degree in political science and a Master's degree in public administration from Iowa State University.

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, February 05, 2019

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