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Wolf River Sturgeon and Walleye Report - Saturday April 7, 2012

Lake Sturgeon

The lake sturgeon have finally started showing up at the spawning site below Shawano Paper Mill Dam.  As of 6 PM this evening fish were moving in and staging across the entire river below the dam and exhibiting behavior that would indicate they are very close to commencing spawning at this site.  Water temperature was 51.8 F, up a degree since the same time yesterday evening.  The slightly warmer weather and sun the past couple days is driving the fish closer to getting things going at Shawano, and the nice day with air temps in the low 60s forecast for tomorrow (Easter Sunday) hopefully will be enough to finally get the show going.  People who want to see sturgeon below the dam are now able to do this off the east river bank below the dam from the publicly accessible (and wheelchair accessible) viewing area in "Sturgeon Park".

The fish were not spawning yet this evening, but could start by tomorrow evening.  The best viewing tomorrow in Shawano will be in the mid-to late afternoon after you've had your fill of Easter ham and eggs, mashed potatoes, veggies, desserts, and candy.  We will be heading to Shawano tomorrow evening with our sturgeon nets and tagging equipment ready to begin our work as soon as the fish begin spawning.  With any luck the fish will begin spawning, and by Wednesday or Thursday we'll have captured and tagged 500 to 700 fish, and collected the eggs we need for the sturgeon restoration programs we are conducting or assisting.  Although thousands of sturgeon spawn at this site every year, typically the spawning activity only lasts 3-4 days and then the show is pretty much over.

I've attached a couple of photos showing some of the "boats" we saw staging below the dam this evening.  The first photo shows a large female probably in the 130 pound class, and the second photo shows several females and a couple males (the males are harder to see as they are the darker fish and are deeper in the water).  (DNR photos)

female sturgeon group of sturgeon wolf river 

The fish this evening were definitely pre-spawn - lots of porpoising, and not showing any behavior indicating that spawning had started.  The females lumbering upriver were often escorted by several males; but the males were just cruising slightly behind, and not aggressively moving around or bumping the females with their noses, indicating the females had not started ovulating yet.  Stable water temps tonight and a warm day tomorrow could cause many of these females to begin ovulating, and to kick things into full gear - we'll see.  As I've said often before - sturgeon spawning activity is very tough to predict (although you'd think after decades of watching these goofy fish we'd get better at it).  Let's hope for a good week.

Walleye

Reports indicate walleye fishing is still pretty hot on the Wolf from Shiocton down to Winneconne.  There are a some great web stories and videos that highlight Wolf River walleyes and our Winnebago walleye management program - have a look………

The recent DNR magazine story on Winnebago walleye is now up on the web:

Winning their way back

http://dnr.wi.gov/wnrmag/2012/04/walleye.htm

Also, the series of Winnebago walleye videos we did last year are on our YouTube channel so are easier to view, find and share.

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3411264CAE940B3B

Hope you enjoy.

Till my next report (if the sturgeon are going, I'll be sending one out tomorrow evening)………..Happy Easter!

Ron

Ronald M. Bruch, PhD
Upper Fox-Wolf Fisheries Work Unit Supervisor
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
625 E County Rd Y, Suite 700
Oshkosh, WI  54901
USA

phone:  (920) 424-3059
fax:  (920) 424-4404
e-mail:  ronald.bruch@wisconsin.gov
Sturgeon Hot-Line:  (920) 303-5444

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