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Dick Ellis Blog:
5/8/2019
Now it starts.  Too much to keep up with in Wisconsin, and that is one nice problem for an outdoorsman. OWO Columnist Wayne Morgenthaler and his son Neal spelled double trouble for two Richland County gobblers after four days of not filling tags. We put the May-June issue of On Wisconsin Outdoors to bed last week with 100,000 copies being distributed statewide. Look for your copy at any Kwik Trip statewide…that’s 400 stores ...
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Day 8 Sturgeon Spearing Report

Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing

Today marks the ½ way point for the sturgeon spear fishery on Lake Winnebago and we are another day closer to closure of the fishery on the Upriver Lakes.  The increased effort today, along with some sunlight to increase visibility, resulted in an uptick in harvest.  In total, there were 85 fish registered on the Winnebago System today with 53 fish harvested from Lake Winnebago and 32 from the Upriver Lakes.  Of the 32 fish registered on the Upriver Lakes, 8 were adult females which means we are now 6 adult females away from the 90% trigger.  Once the 90% trigger is reached there is one more day to the fishery. There is a chance that the 90% trigger could be reached tomorrow, which would result in season closure on Monday.  There is also a chance that the fishery could continue into mid-week.  Spearers with unfilled tags on the Upriver Lakes should monitor tomorrow’s harvest to see how long the fishery will continue.  A detailed breakdown of today’s harvest can be viewed through the following link:

Day 8 - Harvest Report.pdf

There were no 100+ pound fish registered at any of our Lake Winnebago stations today.  The largest fish was 98.5 pounds (74.0”) and registered at Jerry’s Bar in Oshkosh by David Berndt of Winneconne.  The largest fish harvested on the system today was 110.6 pounds (72.1”) and registered at Critter’s by Timothy Metz of Menasha.   A photo of Timothy with his fish can be viewed through the following link:

Timothy Metz_110.6 pounds_72.1 inches_Critters_2-16-2019.jpg

In yesterday’s vignette, I wrote about some of the spearers that broke through this season and harvested their first fish.  In that vignette I also mentioned that we often hear stories of spearers that go long droughts between fish or that have speared for decades before harvesting their first fish.  We ran across another example of this at our Critter’s registration station today when Steven Wittmann of Pewaukee registered his sturgeon.  The 99.0 pound, 71.0” sturgeon that Steven registered today is the first fish that he has harvested in 27 years.  Two of Steven’s sons were with him today and they also were in a photo with their dad when he harvested his last fish 27 years ago.  The boys have grown up a bit sense then! Photos of Steven and his boys with the two fish, 27 years apart, can be viewed through the following links:

Steven Wittmann with family and fish 27 years prior.jpg

Steven Wittmann_99.0 pounds_71.0 inches_Critters_2-16-2019.jpeg

Good luck to all spearers during the remainder of the season!

 

Today’s Vignette: “The 1979 Sturgeon Spearing Season”    

In 1979 there was only a spear fishery for lake sturgeon on Lake Winnebago.  Reports indicate that water clarity was pretty good throughout the season, but lake travel was tough due to heavy snow cover.  In fact, some of the magazine clippings from that season indicate that water would rush up through sturgeon holes cut in the ice flooding the area around spearing shacks.  Despite clear water, the opening day shanty count was only 700 shanties (compared to 2,385 shanties in 1978).  I’ve included a few documents that we found in the file from the 1979 spearing season.

Pre_Spearing_News_Release_1979.pdf

Post_Spearing_News_Release_1979.pdf

Article_'Sturg_Prospects_Dismal'_1979.pdf

Spearing_Stats_1979.pdf

 

 

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Ryan Koenigs

Senior Fisheries Biologist / Winnebago System Sturgeon Biologist

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

625 E County Rd. Y, Suite 700

Oshkosh, WI 54901

Phone: (920)303-5450

Fax: (920)424-4404

Ryan.koenigs@wisconsin.gov