Cold Making for Good Spearing Conditions

January 24, 2014

Chad Doran

WLUK Fox 11

APPLETON – The cold weather is benefiting sturgeon spearers.

The ice on Lake Winnebago and other area lakes is the thickest it has been in years.

There’s ice on Lake Winnebago as far as the eye can see.

“Last year it was a lot less than this, it was open water,” said Jim Rupert of Winneconne.

There’s so much ice.

“You can put 90 miles on the lake right now with your truck if you want to, we have 90 miles of roads,” said Don Herman of the Otter Street Fishing Club.

And with the sturgeon spearing season just two weeks away, conditions are shaping up to be in the favor of spearers.

“Cold but good water clarity, you can see 10-12 feet down in the water,” said David Born of Appleton.

And water clarity can be the difference between spearing a fish and going home empty-handed.

“Water clarity is the number one predicting factor for sturgeon spearing success and typically if you have water clarity of 12-14 feet or greater it is going to be a pretty successful season for spearers,” said DNR Senior Fisheries Biologist Ryan Koenigs.

It will be a stark difference from the last few years where warm weather and murky water led to full 16-day spearing seasons with fewer than average fish registered.

But that shouldn’t be the case this year.

“I think this is going to be a season to be remembered and what it could be historic for is the number of big fish and potentially record-breaking fish that could be speared,” said Koenigs.

Although a shorter season can take away some of the business a full spearing season brings to bars and restaurants like Jansen’s in Oshkosh.

“Sometimes we do get a lot, but like I said it all depends on the weather,” said Manager Debbie Henschel.

But a little bar time is something spearers like Born are willing to trade for if it means a better shot at a sturgeon.

“I’d rather have the clarity and see fish and a short season than murky water and not see anything.”

But with ice heading beyond two feet thick and no warm up in sight, Born is hoping seeing fish this year won’t be a problem.

“Conditions are perfect it should be a good year.”

The sturgeon spearing season opens at 7 a.m. on February 8.

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