Deadline is Oct. 31 for Sturgeon Spearing

October 18, 2013

For Action Reporter Media

Fond du Lac Reporter

The deadline to buy sturgeon spearing licenses for the 2014 Lake Winnebago System season is Oct. 31.

The season is shaping up to provide ample opportunity to land the fish of a lifetime as well as enjoy a tradition that brings together family and friends, according to a press release from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“We have been seeing a record number of big fish in the harvest over the last decade and expect more of the same for the 2014 season,” said Ryan Koenigs, Department of Natural Resources Winnebago System sturgeon biologist. “Nine of the top 10 fish on record have been harvested since 2004 and a record high 9.5 percent of the fish harvested last year exceeded 100 pounds.”

For the second year, 12-year-olds can participate in the lake sturgeon spearing season if they buy a license. Also, adults whose names were drawn in the Upriver Lakes sturgeon spearing lottery can transfer their 2014 tags to youngsters, allowing children a chance to spear on the lakes, where success rates have historically been higher.

There are separate seasons for Lake Winnebago and for the Upriver Lakes that begin at the same time, with participation in the Upriver Lakes season determined by lottery. The 2014 season opens Saturday, Feb. 8.

Spearers will find a healthy fishery that boasts a record number of big fish, including the 87.5 inch, 240-pound sturgeon DNR fish crews captured and tagged on April 10, 2012, below the Shawano Dam and not among the fish harvested in the 2013 season.

The trend in trophy-size fish has increased significantly over the last decade due to the distribution of age classes currently in the population and the impact of harvest regulations implemented over the last 20 years to increase survival of these larger fish, Koenigs says.

“The fish are starting to show us their true growth potential, and I expect to continue to see larger fish in our harvest and population assessments,” Koenigs said.

The harvest caps are the same as they have been the last two years — 400 juvenile females, 828 adult females and 1,200 males.

The minimum spearing age is 12 years, and youth who turn 12 between Nov. 1, 2013, and the last day of the 2014 spearing season can still buy a spearing license after Oct. 31. Military personnel home on leave can also purchase a license after Oct. 31.

There are unlimited license sales on Lake Winnebago, while the Upriver Lakes fishery is managed by a lottery and limited to 500 permitted spearers. Once a person is authorized to buy an Upriver Lakes license for a season, they are not able to buy a license for Lake Winnebago.

Spearers are now able to transfer Upriver Lakes spear licenses to youth spearers ages 12 to 17, and can do so by filling a transfer of license form at least 15 days before the 2014 sturgeon spear fishery. Spearers who applied for an Upriver Lakes license in the lottery but were not authorized received a preference point and can still buy a Lake Winnebago license before Oct. 31.

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