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Sturgeon Spearing Update from Ron Bruch on February 13th, 2012

February 13, 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 – Monday February 13, 2012

Mondays are typically slow during the sturgeon spearing season harvest-wise, as spearers take a break from peering down their spear-holes or go back to work after spending a full weekend spearing and enjoying time with their buddies. Today was no exception as only 22 sturgeon were registered from Lake Winnebago. The Upriver Lakes season closed yesterday after harvest caps were reached there after two days of very successful spearing. Less than optimal water clarity on Lake Winnebago is still keeping spearer success down on Lake Winnebago, but spearers are hopeful that the long season will allow water to continue to clear and increase their chances of seeing a fish in days to come.

Spearer effort overall is expected to increase as the season grinds on, providing the weather holds – not too warm and no severe snow dumps – and the second weekend of the season coming in 5 days could end up being as big or bigger from a participation and excitement standpoint as the first – a second “opening” day of sorts.

Today’s totals:

Sturgeon Harvest Totals for February 13, 2012Largest fish registered today was a 175.3 pound, 78.5 inch female sturgeon speared by Mikey Galligan of Oshkosh, WI. This fish currently holds the honor of being the 6th largest fish by weight on record since the fishery began on Lake Winnebago in 1932. Photo attached:

175.3 pound, 78.5 inch female sturgeon speared by Mikey Galligan of Oshkosh

175.3 pound, 78.5 inch female sturgeon speared by Mikey Galligan of Oshkosh (DNR Photo)

Spearers are reporting seeing large groups of gizzard shad this year, but not the typical 6-8″ shad that the sturgeon like to eat in the winter, rather very large shad 12-14″ which are fish that survived last winter and grew to this large adult size. These shad will also experience a natural winter die-off, but not in the quantity that is seen when they are only 1 year olds. Sturgeon will consume these large 2 year and older shad as they find them on the bottom dead or dying, but this is a much larger fish to swallow and occasionally we will see a sturgeon with the tail end of a large shad sticking out of its mouth when it is brought in to the registration station. Sturgeon consume mostly lake fly larvae (“redworms”) but will also consume large quantities of dead and dying yearling shad in the winter in the years when we have big shad hatches. The shad are a very important food source for Winnebago sturgeon and one of the reasons we have such healthy fish and an abundance of sturgeon in the system. The fact that we have much lower numbers of yearling shad this winter and an abundance of lake fly larvae is part of the reason spearers are having a hard time seeing fish on Winnebago this year. The lake fly beds are primarily in the deep water mud flats, mostly in water greater than 12 feet in depth. Water clarity is at best about 10-11 feet on Lake Winnebago so even if a spearer is set up over a good “redworm” bed, the fish are likely swimming below the 10 foot water depth closer to the bottom where the lake fly larvae are, out of site of the spearer anxiously waiting to see a fish. Fish that deep may not even decoy all that well either as the decoys are set also above the 10 foot depth level. So the hunt goes in the sport of sturgeon spearing. Hoping the water clears over the next week or so.

Till Tomorrow,

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

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