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Sturgeon Spearing Day 4, 2011

February 16, 2011
Spearer Jason Brauch and his 156 lb., 73.3" F2 lake sturgeon

Spearer Jason Brauch and his 156 lb., 73.3" F2 lake sturgeon

So I realize I’m getting to this post a little late (ok, extremely late), but I still wanted to post an update and photos–just got a little distracted!  Today (Feb. 15) was day 4 of sturgeon spearing on the Winnebago lake system.  The wind picked up a bit today, but overall it was another nice day.  I made it out for a few hours and pulled up to Waverly just in time to catch 3 out of the 6 sturgeon registered there.  Spearer Jason Brauch brought in the largest sturgeon of the day weighing in at 156 pounds and 73.3″ (that’s just over 6 feet!).  Jason said his shack was west of Firelane 8 and the sturgeon came into the hole at about 8 feet deep in 16 feet of water.  He hit it with one and a half tines with a solid barb spear–there was hardly a mark on the fish!  It’s amazing that he was able to keep it on the spear.

Bob Olynyk (DNR), spearer Jason Brauch, and Jason Spaeth (DNR) with 156 lb. and 73.3" F2 sturgeon

Bob Olynyk (DNR), spearer Jason Brauch, and Jason Spaeth (DNR) with 156 lb. and 73.3" F2 sturgeon

WDNR Fisheries Management Technicians Bob Olynyk and Jason Spaeth (pictured above) were both happy to see such a large fish come into Waverly since things have been slow there this season.  Bob said less fish have been registered at Waverly because there are less shanties and spearers in that area in comparison to the areas near Stockbridge and Wendt’s where more sturgeon have been registered.  There are most likely just as many sturgeon on the north end of the lake.  Spearer Steve Bartel (below) also brought in a large sturgeon from west of Firelane 8 at 103.8 lbs. and 70.5″.

Spearer Steve Bartel with his 103.8 lb., 70.5" sturgeon

After spending some time at the Waverly station, I drove out onto the ice and stopped to chat with a friendly group that was busy grilling bear meat, venison, and more for lunch.  Pictured below from left to right are spearers Rick Starosta, Daymond Saak, Keith Jeske, Todd Schmidtt, Al Koester, Jim Hicks, and Ron VanWychen.  It sounds like they’re having a fun time spearing!  They spear from a few different shanties and kept each other entertained with musical trivia throughout the morning over their 2-way radios.  They told me some great stories and I grabbed a few photos of their shanties, decoys, and spears–I always love how creative everyone gets.  Al showed me his beer can and muffin tin decoys and a great idea for a beer cooler/dispenser.  He can load the cans on the outside of the shanty where they stay cold and they are dispensed through an opening on the inside of the shanty.  Great idea Al!  Thanks guys and good luck!

After wandering around a bit more, I headed back to Waverly for the daily count and called it a day.  Tomorrow I am thinking about heading over to Stockbridge so will keep you posted.  Below is a view of one of many slushy ice roads.  Things should get interesting as the temperature rises to 48 by Thursday and we experience “periods of drizzle” (according to NOAA).  I expect to deal with a lot of different weather conditions while photographing the sturgeon spearing season, but rain is one thing I didn’t see coming.  Good luck to everyone as the season continues!

Ice Conditions on Lake Winnebago on 02-15-2011

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Rick Starosra permalink
    February 16, 2011 9:22 am

    We all enjoyed your company yesterday at our shack. Stop by again when your in the area as we will be enjoying our time on the ice for the duration at the season. Best wishes on a successful documentary of our Sturgeon heritage here on Lake Winnebago.

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