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Update from Ron Bruch on February 12, 2011

February 12, 2011

Congrats to all the lucky spearers out there on day one of sturgeon spearing 2011!  Here is the update from Ron Bruch–my own daily recap will be soon to follow with stories and photos from the ice and registration stations.  (This update has been posted with permission from the Wisconsin DNR and Ron Bruch.)

Winnebago Sturgeon Spearing Report – Opening Day 2011 – Saturday February 12

Compared to the cold weather we had a couple of days ago, opening day of sturgeon spearing season 2011 turned out to be one of the nicest weather days of the winter, and a very nice opener for spearers and on-lookers on the Winnebago Lakes. Water clarity was excellent in some areas and fair to good in other areas – so not consistent across the whole lake system. Reports from spearers indicate that fish movement, while very good in some areas, was not as good lakewide as it was on opening day in 2010. The vast majority of fish brought in today were in excellent condition – a result of the abundant lake fly larvae and gizzard shad food resources in the lake this year. The 2010 hatch of gizzard shad was the largest since the early 1990s. Gizzard shad experience a natural die-off of a portion of their population each winter and the lake sturgeon take advantage of this high quality food source by eating large quantities of the dead and dying shad laying on the bottom.

A record 12,423 people purchased spearing licenses for the 2011 sturgeon spearing season, 11714 for Lake Winnebago, and 490 for the Upriver Lakes. The Upriver lakes fishery is managed through a lottery – 500 out of the 4144 individuals that applied in the lottery were authorized to purchase their URL license. License sales for the lake Winnebago fishery are not limited. Our opening day shanty count was 4321 on Lake Winnebago, and 372 on the Upriver Lakes.

The overall harvest total for the day was 442, compared to 656 registered opening day in 2010. Today spearers registered 23 fish 100 lbs or larger (5.2% of today’s harvest; 18 from Lake Winnebago and 5 from the Upriver Lakes) while registering 34 during the 2010 opening day (5.1% of that day’s harvest). The largest fish today was a 172.7 pound, 76.9 inch female registered by Jeffery Nozar of Oshkosh.

Totals by lake area and harvest category:

Lake Winnebago: 39 Juvenile Females
126 Adult Females
118 Males

Upriver Lakes: 18 Juvenile Females
37 Adult Females
104 Males

System-Wide: 57 Juvenile Females
163 Adult Females
222 Males

Lake Sturgeon Spearing Totals

Totals by station in attachment (view above or click to download).  On Lake Winnebago we are at 17.7% of the harvest cap for adult females, and on the Upriver Lakes we are at 46.8% of the harvest cap for adult females. Total harvest of sturgeon is limited through pre-set harvest caps. Harvest caps for the 2011 Winnebago System spearing season are 395 for juvenile females, 790 for adult females and 1200 for males.

The Department will close the sturgeon spearing season on Lake Winnebago when the first of one of the two following conditions occurs:

* At the end of the fishing day in which 100% of any one of the three Lake Winnebago harvest caps is reached or exceeded, or

* 24 hours from the end of the fishing day within which a harvest of 90% to 99% of any one of the three Lake Winnebago harvest caps is reached.

The Department will close the sturgeon spearing season on the Upriver Lakes when the first of one of the two following conditions occurs:

* At the end of the fishing day in which 100% of any one of the three Upriver Lakes harvest caps is reached or exceeded, or

* 24 hours from the end of the fishing day within which a harvest of 90% to 99% of any one of the three Upriver Lakes harvest caps is reached.

The Department will close the sturgeon spearing season on all waters of the Winnebago System when the first of one of the two following conditions occurs:

* At the end of the fishing day in which 100% of any one of the three Winnebago System-wide harvest caps is reached or exceeded, or

* 24 hours from the end of the fishing day within which a harvest of 90% to 99% of any one of the three Winnebago System-wide harvest caps is reached.

Good luck tomorrow.”

Ronald M. Bruch, PhD
Upper Fox-Wolf Fisheries Work Unit Supervisor, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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