Wisconsin sturgeon spearing season continues, but who knows how long

Wisconsin DNR Senior Fisheries Biologist/
Winnebago System Sturgeon Biologist

As of Saturday, Feb. 17, we are now halfway through the 2018 sturgeon spearing season on Lake Winnebago.  
We have been hearing reports for the last few days that the water has gradually been clearing and there must be some truth to that given the harvest over the last two days.  
The 119 fish registered the past two days (51 yesterday and 68 today) is only 20 fish behind the opening weekend tally, and I am confident that there were fewer shacks and spearers out on the lake today relative to last weekend.  
The registration station at Wendt’s has been pacing the way for most of the season and today was no different with 19 fish registered at Wendt’s. That was followed by Calumet Harbor (11 fish), Jerry’s Bar (10 fish), Stockbridge Harbor (9 fish), and Payne’s Point (9 fish).
There were three 100-plus pound fish registered today (2 at Wendt’s and 1 at Calumet Harbor). The largest fish of the day was 136.7 pounds, 78.1 inches and registered at Wendt’s by James Price of Fond du Lac (photo attached).
Jeremiah Tripke of Fond du Lac also registered a nice fish (124.3 pounds, 78.3 inches) at Calumet Harbor.
In addition to the 100 pounders, there were many memories made by spearers. David Schulze of Oshkosh had his good luck charm (his daughter) with him as he harvested a 77.2-pound, 65.6-inch female that he registered at Wendt’s.
Faren Harding of Fond du lac was sitting in the shack with two of her friends as a 54.2-inch, (28.7-pound sturgeon came into the hole.  This was Faren’s first fish and from what I’ve heard, throwing the spear was just the beginning of the chaos that occurred between the time the spear was thrown and the fish was on the ice.  

Sturgeon harvest continues to rise in Wisconsin

Wisconsin DNR Senior Fisheries Biologist/
Winnebago System Sturgeon Biologist
The sturgeon harvest on Lake Winnebago picked up on Friday, as 51 fish were registered.  
The registration station at Wendt’s was the busiest with 17 fish registered, followed by Payne’s Point (8), Jerry’s Bar (7), Calumet Harbor (6), Stockbridge Harbor (5), and Waverly and Quinney each with 4 fish.
The Lake Winnebago harvest total through 7 days comes to 337 fish, which is a bit behind the 510 fish registered through the first 7 days of last season.
The largest fish registered on Friday was Mark Baker’s 115.0-pound, 75.1-inch female that he registered at Calumet Harbor (Pipe).   
Earlier this week, I wrote about some of the longer fish that have been harvested from the Winnebago System. In Wednesday’s report I invited comments about any other very long sturgeon that may have been harvested prior to the 1970s.
My predecessor, Ron Bruch, contacted me last night and informed of a 90-inch fish that was harvested during the 1951 season and weighed 118 pounds. It goes without saying, that 90-incher would have been a very impressive fish.
The largest fish that I have personally seen was 87.5 inches, but maybe someday we will see another 90-inch sturgeon either during one of our surveys or harvested by a spearer.       
Good luck on the ice this weekend!

Sturgeon spearing closes on Upriver Lakes

Wisconsin DNR Senior Fisheries Biologist/
Winnebago System Sturgeon Biologist

The big question on Tuesday was how long the spear fishery on the Upriver Lakes would last.  
We were only two adult females away from the 90 percent trigger and 11 adult females from the 100 percent season closure. Well, it literally came down to the wire.  
At 1:50 p.m., we were still sitting on 10 adult females, but the 11th adult female was registered at Critter’s at 1:55 resulting in a complete season closure. So, the 2018 sturgeon spearing season on the Upriver Lakes is now over.  
There were 32 fish harvested from the Upriver Lakes on Tuesday, which brings the season total to 297 sturgeon. This is very similar to last season’s harvest of 295 fish.
On Tuesday. there were 42 fish registered at stations around Lake Winnebago bringing the season total to 229 sturgeon. Payne’s Point registered the most fish (10) followed by Wendt’s (9), Calumet Harbor (7), Jerry’s (6), Stockbridge (4), Waverly (4), and Quinney (4). Four more fish 100 pounds or larger were registered on Tuesday, including Kyle Jenkins 143.7-pound, 84.5-inch female that was registered at Jerry’s Bar in Oshkosh. Kyle’s fish is not only the largest fish in today’s harvest, but also is the longest fish that I have confirmed record of being harvested.  
Fish records typically go from weight, and the current state record lake sturgeon was harvested during the 2010 spearing season.  That fish weighed close to 70 pounds more (212.2 pounds) than the fish Kyle speared, but was actually 0.3 inches shorter (84.2).   
Fish condition (plumpness) can be extremely variable from one fish to another, but can also be highly variable from year to year. Strong hatches of gizzard shad and abundant red worm populations between 2009-2012 provided great foraging conditions for lake sturgeon and fish weights increased greatly during that time.  

24 more sturgeon registered on Wednesday

Wisconsin DNR Senior Fisheries Biologist/
Winnebago System Sturgeon Biologist

There were 24 sturgeon harvested from Lake Winnebago on Wednesday bringing the season total to 253.  
Calumet Harbor (Pipe) paced the way with seven fish while Stockbridge Harbor and Jerry’s Bar (Oshkosh) each registered four.  On the season, Wendt’s has a pretty good lead on all other stations with 67 fish registered thus far. The largest fish of the day was 92.5 pounds (67.2 inches) and registered at Calumet Harbor by Joseph Brenner.
The season will continue for another 11 days, so spearers will have some time to get out and harvest a fish yet this season.
On Tuesday, I mentioned that the 84.5-inch fish registered at Jerry’s Bar was the longest fish that I had confirmed record of being harvested. We have fairly reliable harvest records dating back to the early 1970s, but only intermittent records prior to that.  
Tuesday's fish was the longest fish in our data set during this time period. However, I was made aware of at least one longer fish harvested prior to the 1970s. That fish was Bill Mortimer’s 85-inch,  168-pound sturgeon harvested during the 1957 season.  
It’s possible there are other longer fish out there in the history as well. If you are aware of any, please pass on the photo and story.  
Regardless of the length of fish harvested during past seasons, fish records are based off weight not length. The current state record lake sturgeon harvested via spear was 212.2 pounds (84.2 inches) and taken during the 2010 spearing season. Many of the top 11 heaviest fish on record were taken during the 2010-2013 seasons. Although we have not had a 170-plus pound fish registered in the past five years, we have had a number of fish harvested that were certainly long enough to be on this list had they been in better condition.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin state sturgeon spearing season nears closure

Wisconsin DNR Senior Fisheries Biologist

Spearers harvested 109 fish from the Winnebago System on Monday with 48 coming from Lake Winnebago and 61 from the Upriver Lakes.
This included two very nice fish, one from Lake Winnebago and one from the Upriver Lakes. The biggest fish on the system was 153.7 pounds, 79.0 inches and was registered at Boom Bay (Upriver Lakes) by Colton Dunham. The biggest fish taken from Lake Winnebago was 147.7 pounds, 74.6 inches and registered at Stockbridge by Jeffrey Dreher.  
Monday's harvest from the Upriver Lakes included 21 adult females and thus, we are now only two adult females from the 90 percent trigger.
We are only 11 adult females from the 100 percent season closure. So, there is a strong chance that the Upriver Lakes fishery will close at 1 p.m. on Tuesday (11 or more adult females would have to be harvested).
If 2-10 adult females are harvested on Tuesday, then the fishery would close at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Anglers re-write state fish records

MADISON, WI - Records are made to be broken, and anglers quickly proved this truism in the first year of Wisconsin's new program recognizing catch-and-release state record fish. Traditional state records for fish by weight also fell in 2017, but the bigger story was the multiple first-time records hauled in by two anglers.
"We're happy that some anglers have taken advantage of the new Live Release record fish category. We're expecting a lot more activity in 2018 as more people learn about this exciting opportunity," said Karl Scheidegger, the Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist, who coordinates the state record fish programs.

Catch and release state records
Rod Eberly of Appleton secured a spot in state fishing history when his 17.75-inch white bass, caught and released May 8, 2017, was recognized as Wisconsin's first ever catch and release record. His record, however, was short-lived.
Kevin Larson of Hudson knocked Eberly off the leader board with the 18-inch white bass he caught and released on Cedar Lake in St. Croix/Polk counties on Aug. 23. Larson edged out Eberly's bass out by a quarter of an inch.
Erika Carter of De Pere became the first female angler to set a catch and release record in Wisconsin and bested an existing catch and release record. Carter caught and released an 8.75-inch pumpkinseed sunfish on July 4 from Lake Noquebay in Marinette County. Her haul bested the 8.25-inch pumpkinseed sunfish Eric Amenda from Germantown caught and released May 28 from Pleasant Lake in Waushara County.
Other initial records set in 2017 in the catch and release category that were still standing as of Feb. 1, 2018, are:
* Aaron Fuchs of Baraboo wrestled a 47-inch flathead catfish on Sept. 3 from the Wisconsin River in Sauk County. The fish was returned to the water with a ceremonial SPLASH!
* Dennis Wilkerson of Twin Lakes caught and released a 10.5-inch rock bass on June 10 from Powers Lake in Kenosha County.
* Ben Halfen of Prairie du Sac caught and released a 10.5-inch bluegill on June 16 from Reynard Lake in Bayfield County, establishing the first live release state record for bluegill.
* Jacob Holmstrom from Danburry caught and released a 53.0-inch musky on June 24 from a Burnett County lake.
The DNR recognizes live release records by length for specific fish species meeting qualifying lengths. The angler is required to submit an official record application and photos showing the fish lying along a ruler or other measuring device, and with the angler, which are reviewed and certified by DNR fish biologists.

Traditional by weight state fish records
Anglers in the traditional state fish record categories landed 11 records in 2017, with two anglers accounting for six of them. The DNR recognizes anglers who have legally taken the largest fish on record by hook and line, as well as those fish that have been taken by alternate methods including spearing or bowfishing.
Independence Day was more than just fireworks for 12-year-old Parker Welch of Merrill. The sixth-grader set three hook and line records on July 4, 2017.
She established the first-ever record for stonecat with her 9.3-inch, 5.4-ounce fish caught from the Wisconsin River in Lincoln County; established the first-ever shorthead redhorse record with an 18.9-inch, 1 pound 12.1-ounce fish caught from the Prairie River in Lincoln County; and bettered the existing golden redhorse record by about 1/4 pound with a 21-inch, 3-pound, 1.4-ounce fish caught from the Prairie River in Lincoln County.
Shawn Schmidt of Denmark, WI, established a new alternate method (spear-gun) record for yellow perch with a 14-3/4-inch, 8-ounce. fish taken from Lake Michigan in Kenosha County on June 22, 2017.
Schmidt also broke his own existing alternate method (spear-gun) record with a 16-inch, 2-pound, 7.7-ounce yellow bullhead taken from Silver Lake in Washington County on June 29, 2017. The fish bettered the record by over 1-1/4 pounds. Schmidt was one of six anglers to set traditional records in the opening months of the 2017-8 fishing season, listed in this June 20, 2017, news release.
These records bring his alternate method (spear-gun) record total to seven for rock bass, bluegill, black bullhead, yellow bullhead, round goby, yellow perch and pumpkinseed.
For more information on state record fish and the process anglers should take if they have caught a fish that might be a state record by weight or under the new live release program, visit dnr.wi.gov and search "record fish."
Anglers who want to pursue state records for less well-known fish species will want to make sure they do not possess endangered and threatened fish species.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Day 2 of Wisconsin sturgeon spearing season just OK

The harvest from Lake Winnebago remained low (56 fish), but the Upriver Lakes continue to produce fish for spearers (68 fish) on the second day of the annual Wisconsin sturgeon spearing season on Sunday.
Spearers have now reached 66 percent of the adult female harvest cap for the Upriver Lakes and are 23 adult females away from the 90 percent trigger. This may not seem like that far off, but more than 40 percent of spearers have already tagged out, so effort will be reduced during the remainder of the season.
Wisconsin Department of Wisconsin officials anticipate the Upriver Lakes season will go at least into mid-week.
The big fish on the system on Sunday was 147.3 pounds, 77.5 inches and harvested by Joseph Orlando, who registered his fish at Critter’s meaning that the two largest fish of the season have been registered at that station.
The largest fish of the day on Lake Winnebago was a 122.1-pound, 72.1-inch female registered at Wendt’s by Joseph Kowalkowski. Kowalkowski is originally from Wisconsin, but currently resides in South Carolina and represents one of 358 non-residents who purchased a spearing license this season.
Non-resident license sales represent 2.8 percent of total purchases with sportsmen and sportswomen from 31 states and one Canadian Province purchasing licenses this season.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR