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Update from Ron Bruch on Sturgeon Spawning 2010

April 2, 2010

“Sturgeon
The warm weather over then last couple of weeks has our spring about 7 to 10 days ahead of schedule causing significant numbers of sturgeon to begin their final pre-spawn movements earlier than normal this year.  Water temperature is the main driver of sturgeon spawning activity, including the rate of water warming, and the Wolf River from Shawano to New London is almost 50 degrees F approaching the optimal sturgeon spawning of 54-56 degrees.  The upper Fox River is already at optimal spawning temperature for our sturgeon, but we have not seen any spawning activity yet.  In years like this when the water warms very quickly, the sturgeon typically spawn at a higher temperature in the upper 50s.  In years when we have a long cold spring and the water warms very slowing the sturgeon typically spawn at a much lower temperature in the low 50s.  You can track water temperatures in both rivers on-line at the USGS web pages that report real-time data from flow and temperature gauges at New London on the Wolf River and at Berlin on the upper Fox River.  Sturgeon spearing license funds are used to pay for operation of the real-time temperature probes at both of these sites.  We use the data to track temperatures in the rivers which helps immensely with planning our spawning assessment work for sturgeon each spring
You can track the Wolf River temperature, stage, and discharge data at:
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/uv?dd_cd=01%2C02%2C14&format=gif&period=7&site_no=04079000

You can track the upper Fox River temperature, stage, and discharge data at:

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/uv?dd_cd=01%2C02%2C05&format=gif&period=7&site_no=04073500

While it is possible that the sturgeon could start spawning soon on the Wolf River, I don’t expect spawning activity to begin until late next week at the earliest or later (although these fish have surprised us many times before).  The earliest we have seen sturgeon spawn on the Wolf River was April 10 in 1991.  We may break that record this year.  Sturgeon spawning behavior is very interesting with both sexes exhibiting some very unique characteristics.  I’ve attached a paper that we published a few years ago that thoroughly describes this behavior.

You can check on the status of the sturgeon spawning run by calling our Sturgeon Hot-Line at 920-303-5444.  We have a general message on there now, but will be updating the sturgeon spawning message on the hot-line daily once things start so people know where they can have a chance to see some fish during the run.”
Ronald M. Bruch, PhD
Upper-Fox Wolf Fisheries Work Unit Supervisor, Wisconsin DNR

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