DNR anticipates full sturgeon spearing season on Lake Winnebago

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WINNECONNIE, Wis. (WBAY) -- The first day of sturgeon spearing on the Winnebago System had many taking part in the Wisconsin tradition.

Sturgeon biologists with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are anticipating a full 16 day season on Lake Winnebago and a shortened season of 4-7 days on the Upriver lakes.

“Right now our current estimates are that there's around 19,500 adult females that are 20-30 years old or older and there's about 24,500 adult males in the population,” said Ryan Koenigs, sturgeon biologist for the DNR.

There were 97 fish registered opening day on Lake Winnebago and 130 on the Upriver Lakes.

Jonathan Eiden harvested the largest fish so far on Lake Winnebago, weighing in at 171 pounds and 85.5 inches.

Others, like Dan Moes of Fond du Lac also had some luck opening day.

“It's a young fish, it’s still got its cackles poking out and they're sharp. It'll be a good one to get mounted,” said Moes.

He’s been sturgeon spearing for nearly a decade, but this is only the second fish he's harvested coming in at 43.1 inches long and 14 pounds.

“I didn't even have to think about it; threw the spear and brought it up and now I might win some money for the smallest fish,” said Moes.

The Winnebago System has the largest recreational harvest of lake sturgeon in the world, but Koenigs says the fish they've seen so far Saturday are below average condition.

“We’ve gone through two consecutive years without gizzard shard, but this year we've had lake fly larvae in the lake. Spearers call them red worms and that's an important forage item for sturgeon as well,” said Koenigs.