Ripe conditions for first day of spearing

A sturgeon spearing hole on Lake Winnebago. (WLUK file photo)
A sturgeon spearing hole on Lake Winnebago. (WLUK file photo)
The DNR says conditions were ripe for a big opening day of the 2014 sturgeon spearing season.

This year's opening day harvest of 636 fish is the 2nd highest since 2002 when the 6-hour season was initiated.

The 242 fish harvested Saturday on the Upriver Lakes is also the highest opening day harvest on the Upriver Lakes since the lottery fishery was implemented in advance of the 2007 season.

Senior Fisheries Biologist Ryan Koenigs says the south end of Lake Winnebago was the hot spot, with 211 fish being registered at Wendt's on the Lake.

Jim and Linda's Super Club in Pipe reported 121 sturgeon being registered.

Spearers were able to harvest just over 42% of the Lake Winnebago adult female harvest cap Saturday. That means the season will continue through Sunday, Koenigs says likely into the early part of next week.

As for the Upriver Lakes, the season goes on but the DNR predicts likely not for much longer. There was a total of 242 fish harvested on the Upriver Lakes on opening day, which means that roughly half of the license holders for the lottery fishery registered a fish already.

As with the Winnebago fishery, the season continues on the Upriver Lakes. As of the day's end, spearers were able to harvest 69% of the adult female harvest cap and 65% of the male harvest cap for the Upriver Lakes. Koenigs says spearers are 18 adult females away from the 90% trigger and 26 fish from the 100% trigger, meaning that the season will end if 26 adult females are harvested on Sunday.

Fifty fish tipped the scales at 100+ pounds (44 from Lake Winnebago and 6 from the Upriver Lakes). The two largest fish harvested Saturday were both registered at Stockbridge Harbor. William Zahringer had the largest fish on opening day, tipping the scales at 143.9 pounds, 75.4". Lucas Schneider also registered his 77.8", 140.1 pound fish at Stockbridge on opening day.