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Sturgeon Spearing Update from Ron Bruch on February 12th, 2012

February 12, 2012

The following update has been posted with permission from Ron Bruch and the Wisconsin DNR. This website is not affiliated with the DNR, Sturgeon for Tomorrow, or any other organization.

“Winnebago Sturgeon Spearing Report – Sunday February 12, 2012

The Upriver Lakes lottery fishery closed at 12:30 PM today after spearers there registered 20 adult females tripping the 100% harvest closure trigger of 83 adult females total. The 2012 Upriver Lakes spearing season goes into the books at a total of 242 fish (see breakdown below and in attachment) and as the shortest season (2 days) since the lottery fishery began in 2007 (see attachment 2 for details on URL seasons 1952-2012).

The harvest on Lake Winnebago today was slow, but the very cold weather has resulted in somewhat improved ice conditions in some areas on the big lake which likely was at least part of the reason shanty counts on Lake Winnebago increased from 2197 yesterday to 2544 today. We are still in for a long season though and expect at this point to go for the full 16 days on Lake Winnebago. If the ice conditions hold, Lake Winnebago spearers should have plenty of time to still get out on the lake to spear. Spearers reported seeing more vehicles in some areas along the east shore, although as always spearers need to be cautious when traveling on the ice as reports also came in that indicated some ice cracks opened up due to ice shifting caused by the strong winds the last two days.

Today’s totals:

Grand Total for System for the day and season thus far: 308

Sturgeon Totals for Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Sturgeon Totals for Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Largest fish registered today was a 129.6 pound, 72.3 inch female sturgeon taken in the Upriver Lakes by Charles Clark of Almond, WI:

DNR Photo

While the Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing season has taken place annually since 1932, the season on the Upriver Lakes began in 1952 as an “experimental” season designed to replace the set-line season that had run on the Upriver Lakes from 1932-1951. Conservation Department Game Wardens at the time had long suspected many sturgeon were illegally harvested over the years in this set-line fishery and worked with Department Fisheries Biologists to eliminate the set-line season and replace it with the special winter spear fishery. The new URL spearing season ran concurrent with the Lake Winnebago season and spearers could spear both if they wished given they were allowed up to 3 sturgeon per spearer per season at the time. Over the years though high harvests on the Upriver Lakes resulted in a reduction in the recurrence of the Upriver Lakes season to once every 5 years lasting only two days, and in 2005 only 1 day. Seasonal bag limits system-wide were dropped from 5 to 1 as well. Finally, after very high harvests on the Upriver Lakes in 2000 (2169 fish in 2 days) and 2005 (345 fish in 1 day), the current lottery fishery was put in place to create an annual high quality sturgeon spear fishery where only 500 licenses are authorized for purchase each year from a pool of license applicants. Spearers interested in spearing on the URLs pay a $3 application fee prior to Aug 1 and after the drawing are notified whether they were lucky or not. Those drawn are authorized to purchase a tag, and those not drawn receive a preference point which increases the odds they will be drawn in the future.

Since 1952 we have held 24 sturgeon spearing seasons on the Upriver Lakes. See attached URL sturgeon spearing season data.

Till Tomorrow,

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

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