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Sturgeon Week Features

Fishing WisconsinWinnebago System sturgeon spearing 2018

Big fish to date

Benjamin Berger's opening day fish weighing 155.6 pounds and measuring 75.6 inches. This is the heaviest fish harvested from the Winnebago System since the 2014 spearing season!

2018 Season recap

The 2018 sturgeon spearing season on the Winnebago System may have concluded about a week and a half ago, but our DNR fisheries crew has been working hard to wrap up the season and get the harvest data entered.  Attached is the list of 951 license holders who were fortunate to harvest a sturgeon during the 2018 season.  I have also included a breakdown of the county of residence for successful spearers and the final harvest tallies by station and lake zone.

There was quite a bit of discussion during the season about the fish being a little leaner this past season.  I haven’t calculated the condition data to see how this season will compare, but based on the average length/weight data from this year’s harvest it appears the fish were a bit thinner this season than last.  The average length and weight of fish harvested on Lake Winnebago this season was 60.1” and 51.4 pounds, while the average length and weight observed during the 2017 spearing season on Lake Winnebago was 60.2” and 57.1 pounds.    

--- Ryan Koenigs, Oshkosh


Lake Winnebago system sturgeon spearing regulations 2018

The 2018 Lake Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing Regulations [PDF]

2018 Lake Winnebago - Season closed February 25

Daily harvest Season harvest Harvest cap
Juvenile females 1 49 344
Adult females 8 322 855
Males 5 283 960
Totals 14 654 -

2018 Upriver Lakes - Season closed February 13

Daily harvest Season harvest Harvest cap
Juvenile females 4


Adult females 11


Males 17 178 240


297 -

Daily harvest - February 25, 2018

Winnebago system daily harvest report [PDF]

2018 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: Wednesday March 07 2018