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sturgeon updates

Fishing WisconsinWinnebago System sturgeon spearing 2020

Richard Markowski fish

Richard Markowski and his 122.9 pound, 72.7 inch sturgeon speared on Lake Winnebago, February 23, 2020.

It's over - February 23, 2020

That's a wrap, folks! We ended the 2020 Winnebago System sturgeon spearing season with a total of 811 sturgeon harvested. Today, 69 fish were registered, 60 of which came from Lake Winnebago and 9 from the Upriver Lakes. The largest fish speared on Lake Winnebago today was 122.9 pounds and 72.7 inches by Richard Markowski and registered at Payne's Point. The largest sturgeon harvested from the Upriver Lakes today was 55.0 pounds, 59.3 inches by Robert Lange at Indian Point.

We will be reviewing the 2020 season data over the next few days and plan to send a more detailed recap of the season later this week. We commend the dedicated spearers who spent countless hours on the ice this year honoring one of Wisconsin's most unique traditions. Congratulations to those who saw success and we're already looking forward to 2021! - Ryan Koenigs, fisheries biologist, Oshkosh

Lake Winnebago system sturgeon spearing regulations 2020

Winnebago System sturgeon spearing regulations and information pamphlet 2020 [PDF]

Daily harvest - February 23, 2020

Daily sturgeon tally sheet [PDF]

2020 Lake Winnebago - as of February 23, 2020

Daily harvest Season harvest Harvest cap
Juvenile females 8 57 344
Adult females 21 230 855
Males 31 204 976
Totals 60 491 -

2020 Upriver Lakes - as of February 23, 2020

Daily harvest Season harvest Harvest cap
Juvenile females 2


Adult females 2


Males 5 191 240


320 -

Tagging your sturgeon

What you need to know [PDF]

2020 Winnebago system sturgeon vignettes

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]

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 Winnebago System sturgeon information or local conditions and season updates during the sturgeon season, contact Ryan Koenigs, fisheries biologist, Oshkosh

Last revised: Sunday February 23 2020