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Update from Ron Bruch on Feb. 22, 2011

February 22, 2011
Lake Winnebago from Firelane 8 on Feb. 22, 2011

Lake Winnebago from Firelane 8 on Feb. 22, 2011

Lake Winnebago looks completely different than it did just last week–the ice roads and majority of shanties are gone and there is little to no action out on the ice.  It seems strange after a few crazy weeks out there!  There are still some dedicated sturgeon spearers enjoying the long season and 10 fish were harvested today.

This update has been posted with permission from the Wisconsin DNR and Ron Bruch:

“Winnebago Sturgeon Spearing Report – Tuesday February 22

See Sturgeon Vignette below: The World Sturgeon Conservation Society and the North American Sturgeon Conservation Society

Spearer numbers increased slightly today, but fish movement (especially big fish movement) appears to have significantly increased following the large storm that blew through over the last couple of days. While only 1 fish was registered yesterday, 10 fish were registered today including 3 fish (30% of today’s harvest) 100 pounds or larger. A number of spearers have indicated they will be gearing up for one last shot at the season later this week. Anyone going out on Lake Winnebago though is advised to make sure they know what ice conditions are in the area they will be traveling. The new snow on the ice has covered up bad ice areas and thin spots brought on by the warm weather last week, and old sturgeon holes. Spearers currently going out on the ice are blazing new trails to ensure they have a safe travel path and many have switched their transportation mode to 4-wheelers or snowmobiles. Be careful.

Largest fish of the day was 110.4 lb, 74.1″ F4 registered at Jerry’s Bar Station (Oshkosh) by Frank Ziegrich II of Omro.

Totals by harvest category:

Lake Winnebago: 1 Juvenile Females
7 Adult Females
2 Male
10 Lake Winnebago Total for the Day – 989 total for season

1332 System-wide Total for the Season

Upriver Lakes season is closed for 2011.

The World Sturgeon Conservation Society and the North American Sturgeon Conservation Society

The Winnebago System lake sturgeon management program is viewed by many sturgeon research and management programs around the world as a model for sound long-term sturgeon management. In 2001, 430 sturgeon researchers, managers, biologists, enforcement specialists, and private interests from 30 countries around the world converged on Oshkosh for a week in July to share and discuss their work with sturgeon. All 25 species of sturgeon and 2 species of paddlefish were discussed in various sessions that covered everything from genetics to population management. This conference was the 4th International Symposium on Sturgeon (4th ISS), and was chaired by me (Ron Bruch), Fred Binkowski of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Great Lakes WATER Institute, and Serge Doroshov of the University of California-Davis. One of the highlights of this week-long event was a field trip to see lake sturgeon sampling on the Wolf River, and to hear first hand about our Winnebago Sturgeon Management Program.

At the end of the symposium, the 430 delegates were engaged in a discussion about the importance of holding international conferences such as the 4th ISS, and further developing the world-wide network of sturgeon scientists and others interested in sturgeon. Sturgeon populations around the world have been under assault for over 100 years by over-harvest and habitat loss. The great sturgeon populations of Europe were all but gone; the famous populations of the Caspian and Black Seas were experiencing serious problems. While there were several encouraging sturgeon success stories in North America, including our Winnebago lake sturgeon program, there were also some serious problems here as well. All agreed that it was time to join together to help each other to identify and solve various problems confronting sturgeon resources around the world.

And so – the World Sturgeon Conservation Society (WSCS), conceived in Oshkosh in 2001, was finally born in 2003, chartered out of Germany. The WSCS has since been responsible for ensuring that the 5th ISS took place in Ramsar, Iran in 2005, and that the 6th ISS took place in Wuhan, China in 2009. The 7th International Symposium on Sturgeon will be held, again in North America, in 2013 in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada.

In 2008, several sturgeon colleagues and I from the US and Canada formed the North American Chapter of WSCS, to focus specifically on sturgeon management and research issues here in North America. We have held 3 annual meetings since 2008, with our next meeting is planned for July of this year, also in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Our meetings are open to any sturgeon scientist or enthusiast, and are very informative as North American sturgeon issues, projects, success stories, and technical information are shared during presentations and workshops. This year we will be converting our Chapter to the North American Sturgeon Conservation Society, an independent organization linked to the World Society, and applying for non-profit status with the US and Canadian governments.

You can find more information about WSCS at http://www.wscs.info and about the NASCS at http://www.viu.ca/wscs-nac/. For further information about our 2011 North American meeting go to http://www.viu.ca/wscs-nac/conferences.asp.

There are many good web sites that provide interesting information on sturgeons of the world. A few to check out include:
http://dnr.wi.gov/fish/sturgeon/lakesturgeon.html
http://www.cites.org/eng/prog/sturgeon.shtml
http://www.fws.gov/midwest/sturgeon/
http://www.greatlakesfishes.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Monster-Fish-with-Zeb-Hogan/119368861427408

The whole sturgeon world is connected by the growing network in WSCS and NASCS. Sturgeon people from the Winnebago region can be proud of the program that we have, and that the World and North American Sturgeon Societies have some roots here on Winnebago. Winnebago sturgeon spearers and enthusiasts can also be proud that we built our sturgeon management program together – it didn’t happen overnight, but together we have built a program that perhaps other regions of the world can look to, to help solve some of their sturgeon problems.

Till tomorrow,

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

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