Sturgeon spawning slow near Shawano dam

SHAWANO – It’s been almost two weeks since the sturgeon started their annual spawning run.

The Shawano Dam is typically the last place to view the fish.

Activity there should finally pick up this week.

After nearly 130 miles of swimming, a lone sturgeon can swim no more.

The Shawano Dam marks the end of the line for fish making the annual migration from the waters of the Lake Winnebago System up the Wolf River.

“It’s not easy to see them, because they’re down deep. So if you watch long enough, you’ll see one porpoise, or you’ll see a fin here and there,” said Jim Horne, DNR conservation warden.

The DNR says this season is longer and later than usual.

“Because we’ve had rain, and overcast skies, the water temperature has dropped,” said Horne.

The DNR says the water temperature below the Shawano Dam Monday morning was 49 degrees. They say the fish are in the area, but those sturgeon won’t begin spawning until the water temperature warms up to 55 or 56 degrees.

“It’s just one of those late late springs. We’ve had ice go off a week and a half ago. The same day they started tagging down there in New London, the ice went out on Shawano Lake, so it’s like a big ice cube up here that comes over it. It takes a while for that water to warm up between here and there,” said Horne.

Linda Milinski and her friend Chris Hoey came to watch.

“This is wonderful, I love to see them, I get so excited, I could jump in the water,” said Linda Milinski of Fond du Lac.

“We got to put a safety harness on Linda,” said Chris Hoey.

“There’s one, stuck his fin up over there,” said Dick Neja of Shawano.

Dick Neja says he watches sturgeon too, but for a different reason.

“I’m nosy. I fish down here all summer anyway. I just want them to hurry up and get them out of here so I can go fishing,” said Neja.

The DNR says the run below the Shawano Dam could start Tuesday at the earliest.

“Everybody wants to know when they’re going to be here. Most times it’s just a guess. You try to, you’ve done this enough, but even then you’re almost always wrong, so the fish don’t listen to us,” said Horne.

In the Shawano area, information from the Shawano Dam is available at 1610 on the AM radio dial.

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