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Sturgeon Spawning Update II from Ron Bruch on April 16, 2011

April 17, 2011

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

“Wolf River Sturgeon Update II – 16 April 2011

Sturgeon Spawning – We captured and tagged 32 spawning lake sturgeon (3 females, 29 males) this afternoon at Bamboo Bend in Shiocton, and 12 (all males) at the Cty X Sturgeon Trail in New London. There were probably 4 females spawning at Bamboo Bend and 1 or 2 spawning at Cty X. All of the females appeared that they had just begun spawning late this morning and may still be around tomorrow (Sunday) morning. We are going to check activity in the morning to see if any other new females moved in to begin spawning. I would not be surprised if no new fish move in given the dropping water temperatures, but then I also would not be completely surprised if we saw additional new fish – the more you think you know about these animals, the more you find out you don’t know. The long range forecast is calling for a cool upcoming week gradually warming to near 60 by next weekend. Given this forecast I still expect the most intense spawning to begin later this week – we’ll see. For the next few days though there may be a few fish around for people to see at Bamboo Bend and Cty X. There are a few sturgeon that have moved in below the Shawano dam, but they are not spawning yet and the water temps in that area of the river have a long ways to go to make the fish active at that site.

A quick note on spring flows and river levels: the amount of water flowing down the Wolf River each spring (and any time of the year for that matter), and subsequently the amount of flow and water height in the walleye spawning areas in the spring depends totally on snowmelt and timely rain, especially rain – in other words, water flowing downstream from upstream areas in the watershed. The river levels have absolutely nothing to do with the levels (rising, stable, or falling) on Lake Winnebago. The water levels on the Winnebago lakes are mostly controlled by the dams at Neenah and Menasha at the outlets to the lower Fox River, but these dams have no influence on the Wolf River water levels above Fremont. If they were able to influence the water levels further up on the river system, the water levels on Lake Winnebago would have to be so high that Oshkosh would be under up to 20 feet of water. In the spring of the year, when some people think that low water on the rivers is a result of the operation of the dams at Neenah/Menasha, the Corp of Engineers (who operate or coordinate dam operation on the lower Fox River) is actually using the spring flows and additional water coming downstream to fill the pool lakes and gradually bring them up to summer navigation levels.”

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

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