DNR projecting full 16-day sturgeon season
FOND DU LAC - The sturgeon spearing season, which opened Saturday, is on track to be a 16-day season on Lake Winnebago, a state Department of Natural Resources official said Sunday. But the season may be abbreviated on the upriver lakes.
"It'll be a longer season (on Lake Winnebago) but it gives more opportunities to get fish," said Ryan Koenigs, a fisheries biologist with the DNR. "Some (sturgeon spearers) are really into it and don't feel the rush to get one in the first week, so there should be time for them."
On Sunday, 115 sturgeon were caught on Lake Winnebago and 60 were caught in the upriver lakes area. But the season could be shorter on the upriver lakes as 50 percent of the male sturgeon cap and 42 percent of the adult female cap had already been caught as of Sunday.
Follow along with sturgeon spearers as they cut holes and position shanties in advance of sturgeon spearing season
"It's hard to hypothesize how long that will go ... but likely into this week and possibly into the weekend," Koenigs said.
On Saturday's opening day, a total of 198 fish were harvested on Lake Winnebago and 123 were harvested from the upriver lakes of Butte des Morts, Poygan and Winneconne.
Combined with Sunday's totals, 19 percent of the adult female harvest cap and nearly 14 percent of the male sturgeon cap has been caught on Lake Winnebago.
The largest fish caught on Sunday was 140.6 pounds and nearly 79 inches long, speared by Michael Larsen of Seymour.
The fish this season are larger than usual, Koenigs noted, likely because they're eating well and "plumping back up."
With temperatures warming up this week into the 40s and into the low 50s by the weekend, Koenigs said it's hard to judge what impact it will have on the season, but fishermen need to be mindful of ice and weather reports.
"Weather may play an impact, but what degree or how fast conditions may change, is hard to predict," he said.
In 2016, the season on the upriver lakes lasted seven days while the season on Lake Winnebago lasted the full 16 days. On opening day in 2016, the upriver lakes had 151 sturgeon speared compared to 84 on Lake Winnebago. This year, that number on Lake Winnebago climbed to 198 fish.