Restaurants see boost in business with season opener

Sturgeon hangs in front of restaurant in Van Dyne
Sturgeon hangs in front of restaurant in Van Dyne

VAN DYNE - Opening day of sturgeon spearing season is good for business, especially when your restaurant is right off of Lake Winnebago.

On Saturday, it was hard to find an open seat at Wendt's on the Lake in Van Dyne,  but owner Linda Wendt wasn't complaining.

"It's awesome. We look forward to this time of year. It's like a bonus, especially when the conditions are as good as they are this year," said Wendt.

But how good is business when it's a good spearing season?

"I mean like today, it'll probably be a thousand people easily. You can see they're 10 deep here and our waiting list for dinner and lunch is non-stop," Wendt said.

Wendt's wasn't the only restaurant with a long waiting list. Just a few miles down the road people filled TJ's Harbor inside and out.

"Typically this is our busiest day in the winter season compared to summertime, this is our busiest season," said Bradley Lind, co-owner of TJ's Harbor.

While restaurants were busy serving up customers, 12-year-old Wyatt Ziemer was busy celebrating his first sturgeon.

"I'm excited. I was ecstatic. I felt like I was going to jump in. I pulled the rope up all the way and then dad gaffed it," said Ziemer.

Not everyone was as lucky as Ziemer. For the past 22 years, Ally Karau has been trying to take home her very own sturgeon.

"I missed one today. I missed one a couple years ago. It feels pretty horrible," said Karau.

She's not giving up anytime soon and Karua said she still enjoys being out on the lake.

"The atmosphere is just phenomenal. The people you meet are fantastic," Karu said.

Back at TJ's restaurant, Lind also enjoyed meeting new people.

"We love it. It's a lot of work, but it's a day you look forward to and a day you look to be done also," Lind said.

Lind and other business owners may see the busy days pass quickly,  as a successful season also means a short one.