The 2013 sturgeon spear fishery on the Winnebago System is officially over, with very similar results to the 2012 fishery. A total of 12 fish (0 juvenile females, 7 adult females, and 5 males) were harvested from Lake Winnebago today. There were a total of 306 fish (30 juvenile females, 131 adult females, and 145 males) harvested from Lake Winnebago this season, while there were 567 fish harvested from the system (Winnebago and Upriver Lakes combined). These numbers are strikingly similar to 2012 where 566 fish were harvested (242 from Upriver Lakes and 324 from Lake Winnebago). The big fish trend also continued in 2013, as 39 fish greater than 100 pounds were harvested. In fact, 9.5% of the harvested fish from Lake Winnebago eclipsed the 100 pound mark this season, which is a record. As I stated in an earlier report, sturgeon biologists in the 1950s and 1960s believed that the population was healthy if more than 1% of the harvest or adult population was larger than 100 pounds. We really have an unbelievable thing going right now with these big fish and I look forward to watching these fish grow over the course of my career. The big fish today was a 70.6”, 115.1 pound female sturgeon that was speared by Emily Walsdorf from Van Dyne.
The end of my first sturgeon spearing season as the Winnebago Sturgeon Biologist is bitter sweet. Our staff worked long hours throughout the majority of the season and will welcome a break. However, we all enjoy the sturgeon spear season and will now have to look forward to 2014. I thoroughly enjoyed every part of my 1st season in my new position, and I look forward to many more seasons to come. The main reason that I enjoyed the season so much, and my job in general, is that I get to work shoulder to shoulder with a great crew and a public that is passionate about our sturgeon resource. I really enjoyed sitting at stations throughout the season and talking to spearers and sturgeon enthusiasts, it is the people that really make the job fun and I thank you all for making this job so rewarding! I hope for clear water next year so that we can really showcase the population and fishery that we have in the Winnebago System. The size of these fish is truly unbelievable and we continue to see top 10 fish being harvested each year, even with below average harvests.
Our crew will be tabulating data over the next few weeks and I will be sure to send out a summary of the season in the near future. I hope you all enjoyed the 2013 sturgeon spear fishery as much as I did and thank you all for your interest in our Winnebago System sturgeon population and fishery!
Ryan P. Koenigs
Upper Fox – Wolf Fisheries Work Unit
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources