2018 sturgeon spearing season opener surprising

Opening day of the 2018 sturgeon spearing season has come and gone.
For the most part, things went as well as Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials would have anticipated with less than ideal water clarity conditions. Lake Winnebago was on the slower side with an opening day harvest of 83 fish.
The surprise for the Lake Winnebago fishery is where the fish were harvested from. Given the lack of gizzard shad this season and the dirtier water on the south end, the DNR anticipated some of the northern stations being busier than southern stations.
The opposite was observed as Wendt’s paced the way (27 fish) followed by Jerry’s Bar in Oshkosh (16 fish) and Calumet Harbor in Pipe (15 fish). There were seven fish harvested from Lake Winnebago that were 100 pounds or larger with the largest fish being Robert Redman’s 137.5-pound, 74.6-inch sturgeon that he registered at Wendt’s.
Coming into the season, the Upriver Lakes had better water clarity conditions than Lake Winnebago.
Between the three registration stations on the Upriver Lakes, 136 fish were registered including 42 adult females. The opening day harvest reached 44 percent of the adult female harvest cap, so the season should continue for at least another few days.
The biggest fish of the day was registered by Benjamin Berger at Critter’s, weighing 155.6 pounds and measuring 75.6 inches.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing season approaches

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource conservation wardens have received and answered a lot of questions leading up to this year’s Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing season opener on Saturday, Feb. 10.
Wardens wish to remind sturgeon spearers of the following often asked questions about regulations regarding tags and registration.
Spearers are required to be in possession of their paper license/ tags while spearing. Immediately upon harvest, successful spearers must validate their tags by removing the validation stub from their tag by cutting or tearing at the dotted line. The sturgeon carcass tag is only required to be attached to the sturgeon if the successful spearer leaves the sturgeon prior to registration. It is also illegal to possess more than one sturgeon carcass tag or the tag of another while spearing.
In-person registration is still required. Successful spearers have until 2 p.m. the day of harvest to register their sturgeon. There is no online or call-in registration for lake sturgeon. Additional information on regulations and registration station locations can be found at: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/documents/regulations/2018WinnebagoSturgeonSpearingRegulations.pdf .
Report DNR violations: 1-800-TIP-WDNR
General DNR questions: 1-888-936-7463
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

La Crosse bass angler returns without a check

CLEWISTON, FL – La Crosse's Tom Monsoor finished in 73rd place in the FLW Tour Qualifier season opener on Lake Okeechobee in Clewiston, FL, on Friday.
Monsoor, who has won more than $850,000 on the FLW Tour in 16 seasons, including $105,000 for his first FLW Tour professional bass tournament title last June, caught five-fish limits Thursday and Friday, but they weren't enough to finish among the top 60 anglers to cash a check.
Monsoor, who turns 69 on Sunday, managed only 9 pounds, 5 ounces on Thursday. His weight improved to 15 pounds on Friday for a two-day 24-5 total. While the top 30 anglers advance to Saturday's semifinal round and top 10 to Sunday's championship round, 31st through 60th place finishers earn $10,000 each. Anyone outside 60th place goes home without a check. Monsoor's total was 1-3 short of 60th place.
Day One leader Bryan Schmitt of Deale, MD, retained his lead with 23-8 to extend the margin to 14 ounces entering Saturday's semifinal round. Schmitt's two-day total weight was 48-3, while Mark Rose of West Memphis, AK, is in second place with 47-5.
Jeffrey Mathews of Maitland, FL, won the co-angler division and $20,000 Friday with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 42-1.
In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field composed of 376 anglers.
The total purse for the FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Evinrude is more than $930,000, with up to $125,000, to the winning pro.


Family, big fish and fun on tap Feb. 10

OSHKOSH, WI - Family, friends, big fish and fun are on tap Feb. 10 for the opening day of sturgeon spearing season on the Lake Winnebago system.
The Winnebago System is home to the world's largest self-sustaining population of lake sturgeon, with an estimated 19,000 adult females and 24,000 adult males, and a unique spearing season dating back more than 85 years.
"Spearers in 2018 will have another great opportunity to renew traditions and go after some really big fish," said Ryan Koenigs, Department of Natural Resources sturgeon biologist. "As always, water clarity and ice conditions determine spearer success, and we won't definitively know conditions until the season draws closer. However, preliminary water clarity readings collected Jan. 8 averaged 9 feet, which is similar to the 2017 season where 552 fish were harvested from Lake Winnebago."
Interest in sturgeon spearing continues to be strong, as 12,979 licenses (12,505 for Lake Winnebago and 474 for the Upriver Lakes) were sold for the 2018 season. Licenses were sold to spearers in 71 out of 72 Wisconsin counties and representatives from 32 U.S. states and one Canadian province.
"Spearers continually tell DNR staff that it's the chance to get together with family and friends, to relive old memories and create new ones that keep them coming back year after year," Koenigs said. "The success of the fishery and the fish population is a testament to the successful co-management of the sturgeon resource among DNR, public stakeholder groups, and a passionate general public."
According to Koenigs, there are more fish in the system now than there have been for decades, with an impressive complement of large fish that has been unrivaled since inception of the modern spearing season in 1932. In 2017, 19.3 percent of the female sturgeon handled during spawning stock assessments were larger than 70 inches. Fish harvested in 2017 had fed well on a strong gizzard shad hatch in 2016 while the forage base observed in 2017 assessments was not as strong as years past.
In 2017, 54 fish exceeding 100 pounds were harvested, including an 83.4-inch, 154.9-pound fish harvested by Gerald Petersen and a 78.5-inch, 154.7-pound fish taken by Sandra Schumacher, both registered at Stockbridge Harbor.

Season and license details
Sturgeon spearing opens at 7 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 10 and may run for up to 16 days until Feb. 25. However, an earlier closure may be triggered if pre-set harvest caps are reached.
The system-wide harvest caps are similar to those set for the 2017 season: 430 juvenile females, 950 adult females and 1,200 males.
A sturgeon spearing license and tag is required to spear sturgeon. Spearing hours run from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and all sturgeon must be presented at a DNR operated registration station by 2 p.m. of the same day the fish is harvested.
Successful spearers must immediately validate their carcass tag by removing the validation stub. They do not need to attach validated carcass tags to harvested fish before registration as long as the spearer stays with the fish until registration. However, the harvest tag must be attached to the sturgeon if the spearer leaves the fish prior to registration. DNR staff recommend that spearers bring a clear plastic zip-top bag and tie to protect and secure the paper tag to the fish.
More details regarding sturgeon spearing throughout the Lake Winnebago system, including the complete rules and regulations and a list of 10 registration stations can be found at dnr.wi.gov, keywords "Winnebago system sturgeon."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Effort underway to develop 10-year inland trout management plan

MADISON, WI - Work on developing a plan to guide inland trout management in Wisconsin over the next decade is getting underway, with an advisory team helping the Department of Natural Resources with that task meeting Jan. 27 for the first time.
The plan will address trout habitat, stocking and other management issues in Wisconsin. The advisory team will meet at least twice this winter to help DNR staff brainstorm issues, set broad goals and define needs, said Joanna Griffin, DNR trout coordinator.
"We're excited to get this effort underway to sustain our great trout fishing into the future," Griffin said. "We want to thank everyone who is serving on the advisory team and everyone who applied to be an at-large member. We appreciate your time and dedication to inland trout management in Wisconsin."
The DNR randomly selected a volunteer from each of four districts, and these at-large members are serving alongside two anglers, landowners, business/tourism officials, people representing non-consumptive interests in trout waters, Wisconsin Conservation Congress members, and tribal representatives selected by DNR biologists to represent diverse interests.
For meeting location details and the first agenda, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for inland trout management. While the meeting is open to the public, there is no public comment opportunity scheduled. Such opportunities are built-in later in the process.
Griffin said the stakeholder team will meet two to three times this winter. In the spring and summer, DNR's trout team will write a draft plan which will go through DNR's internal approval process.
Public hearings on the draft plan would be held in the fall, with a goal of bringing the finalized plan to the DNR's policymaking board for approval next fall or winter, Griffin said.
In recent years, the DNR has been creating or updating management plans for different fish species and major waters. Management plans have recently been created for panfish and bass and for the Lake Michigan fishery, according to Griffin.
Wisconsin has more than 13,000 miles of trout streams, including more than 5,300 miles, or 40 percent, that are Class 1 streams with naturally self-sustaining populations of wild trout. Another 46 percent, or 6,120 miles, are Class 2 trout streams that have some natural reproduction but require stocking to maintain a desirable sport fishery.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Public meetings set to update sturgeon management plan

OSHKOSH, WI - Wisconsin's oldest fish species - lake sturgeon present when dinosaurs roamed the earth - is set for an updated management plan.
Sturgeon lovers can help shape that plan by attending one of eight public meetings statewide in mid-February and early-March.
"Wisconsin's sturgeon team is in the early stages of a process to update the sturgeon management plan and we want to hear from anglers and others interested in sturgeon," said Ryan Koenigs, the sturgeon biologist who leads the Department of Natural Resources sturgeon team. "These meetings provide people an opportunity to comment on the state's sturgeon management program and will set the stage for development of the plan."

Sturgeon facts and history
Lake sturgeon are currently managed under guidance from the 2000 Lake Sturgeon Management Plan. An updated plan will allow DNR staff and partners to continue to build on the previous plan's success, set new goals, and include management strategies for both lake sturgeon and shovelnose sturgeon management. It is important to note that the previous plan did not include shovelnose sturgeon.
Public meeting dates, locations and starting times are:
* Tuesday, Feb. 20 - Eau Claire, 6:30 p.m., DNR Eau Claire Service Center, 1300 W. Clairemont Ave.
* Tuesday, Feb. 20 - Fitchburg, 6:30 p.m., DNR Fitchburg Service Center, 3911 Fish Hatchery Road.
* Tuesday, Feb. 20 - Webster, 6:30 p.m., Larsen Family Public Library, 7401 W. Main St.
* Wednesday, Feb. 21 - La Crosse, 6:30 p.m. DNR La Crosse Service Center, 3550 Mormon Coulee Road.
* Wednesday, Feb. 21 - Oshkosh, 6:30 p.m., Coughlin Building, Conference rooms A and B, 625 E County Road Y.
* Wednesday, Feb. 21 - Park Falls, 6 p.m. Public Library, 410 Division St.
* Tuesday, March 6 - Ashland, 6 p.m. Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, 2100 Beaser Ave.
* Tuesday, March 6 - Oconto, 6 p.m., Oconto City Hall, 1210 Main St.
There also will be future opportunities for people to comment online, and materials prepared for the meetings will be posted online as they become available.
Wisconsin has long been regarded as a national and international leader in sturgeon protection, restoration and research - a reputation built since the DNR began regulating sturgeon harvest on the Winnebago system in 1903.
Wisconsin offers a hook-and-line season on multiple major rivers with healthy, growing populations and boasts the world's largest self-sustaining population of lake sturgeon. In locations where sturgeon populations are not as strong, DNR and partners are working to rebuild sturgeon populations.
For more information regarding sturgeon management, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "sturgeon."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Lake trout season on Lake Michigan closed

MADISON, WI - Lake trout fishing on Lake Michigan is now closed under a temporary rule that allowed year-long harvest of lake trout in Lake Michigan and increased the bag limit.
The season will re-open March 1, with a bag limit of two fish. Department of Natural Resources staff are currently working on additional rule making that would remove the closed season on lake trout and increase bag limits.
The temporary rule sought to allow increased sport harvest opportunities for lake trout, better balance predator and prey among sport fishing species that prey on alewives and maintain a sustainable population while pursuing restoration goals. The permanent rule currently being drafted will also follow these guidelines.
For more information regarding lake trout fishing on Lake Michigan, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "fishing Lake Michigan."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR