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Sturgeon Spawning Update from April 23-24, 2014

April 25, 2014

With the weather warming up it’s just about time to visit the rivers for sturgeon spawning! Read the DNR’s report below and if you can’t make it to the river yourself, you should be able to see a few sturgeon via the Wolf River Cam. Sounds like the Shawano cam should be up and running soon. Check it out here: http://www.wolfrivercam.com/index.html

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

Sturgeon spawning update from Ryan Koenigs (Fisheries Biologist) on April 23-24, 2014:

Thursday, April 24:

As I stated in my email last night, we weren’t sure what impact Thursday’s cooler temperatures would have on sturgeon spawning activity. Well after observing fish behavior today, we know that the cooler temperatures made the fish back off a bit. There was some spawning activity observed at the Sturgeon Trail on the Wolf River in New London and at Riverside Park on the Fox River in Berlin today, but spawning at both sites was limited to a very minimal numbers of females. Despite the rain, our DNR fish crew collected and tagged fish at both sites. We were only able to capture 10 fish at the Sturgeon Trail with a single fish being a ripe female that was drawing other fish in. We also captured 9 fish in Berlin, 2 of which were ripe females.

I’m still not 100% sure when peak spawning activity will take place at various locations throughout the system, but I assure you that DNR fisheries and law enforcement staff will be heavily monitoring spawning activity and doing our best to keep people updated. I’m optimistic that the nicer weather and sunshine forecasted for Friday will get fish back into the spawning rhythm at some of the spawning sites lower down on the Wolf River (Sturgeon Trail in particular). However, we will just have to wait and see, because the fish currently hold all of the cards and will spawn when they feel good and ready. For the last 7+ years I have watched these fish make biologists (including myself) look foolish when predicting when and where they will spawn, and I’m afraid this year might hold an all too similar fate. As I stated though, I will make sure to send out as frequent of updates as I can and we will also work to keep the Sturgeon Hotline (920)303-5444 rolling with up to date spawning information.

Wednesday, April 23:

There has been quite a bit of interest in when the sturgeon will start spawning on the Wolf and upper Fox Rivers and I am glad to finally report that we are starting to see sturgeon spawning activity. I actually just got home from working a few fish at two spawning sites in the Berlin area on the upper Fox River. Water temperatures in this area reached 54 degrees on Tuesday and the temperatures have remained just warm enough to push the fish over the edge and commence spawning activity. Although, we did not tag many fish on the upper Fox tonight, there were multiple spawning pods at multiple sites within Berlin City limits, particularly Riverside Park. There did not appear to be a large number of females actively spawning at any of these sites, so I’m not sure if fish will still be spawning here in the morning or not.

As for the Wolf River, we saw some of the first glimmer of pre-spawn activities this afternoon at numerous sites. Typically sturgeon will begin porpoising (jumping out of the water) a few days to a week in advance of spawning activity at a site. As spawning actively gets closer, male sturgeon will actively “cruise” near the rocked shorelines of sturgeon spawning sites. This “cruising” activity was observed this afternoon at numerous known spawning sites on the Wolf River including the Sturgeon Trail on County X in New London, Pfeifer Park on the Embarrass River in New London, Bamboo Bend in Shiocton, and a few other sites on private property. Typically sturgeon spawning will take place within 24-48 hours of observed cruising activity, meaning that we are very close to sturgeon spawning starting on the Wolf River. We are not 100% sure what the cooler weather and rain tomorrow will do to spawning activity, but it would not surprise me if we have heavy spawning activity starting tomorrow and carrying into the next few days. As many of you may know, or have heard me say in the past, predicting exactly when these fish will spawn and where is very difficult. So don’t miss the chance to come out and potentially see this fish spawn. Our law enforcement staff have been updating the sturgeon hotline (920)303-5444, so feel free to call the hotline for more current information about where sturgeon activity may be taking place.

I will try to send out another update tomorrow evening notifying people of spawning activity, but I wouldn’t suggest waiting too long before making plans to come see these fish spawn, particularly at spawning sites lower down on the Wolf River in New London and Shiocton.

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