Lucas Schneider says he kind of laughed before the sturgeon spearing season started about what he called all the “hoopla”: all the optimism about a big turnout on Lake Winnebago and lots of success for spearers. Turns out those optimistic people were right, at least for him, as Schneider brought in a 140-pound sturgeon early into Saturday’s season opener.
After telling the story of his catch dozens of times, all that was left was to figure out what to do with his 140-pound prize.
"I already got some feedback from the fiancé on that,” said Schneider, from Green Bay. “She’s not that interested in mounting it, we'll see.”
Schneider was one of many people registering his fish at Harbor Bar in Stockbridge. Those who had been to several registration stations say there were lines with people waiting to check in fish all over. There also were a lot of shanties out on Lake Winnebago, and spearers noticed a busy transit early in the day.
“I was surprised when we went out this morning, there was like a highway of people making their way out there,” said Stockbridge’s Nick Propson.
DNR officials expected a big turnout, especially for opening weekend. Based on early numbers, they say there is a good chance this sturgeon season will be cut short of the full 16-day season because harvest caps will likely be met early.
"Typically once you get to at least 12 feet of visibility, it's going to be a successful season where we're probably going to close the season down early,” said DNR sturgeon biologist Ryan Koenigs. “We're probably going to end up closing the season sometime during this week; if not, next weekend."
Schneider, the proud owner of a new 140-pound trophy, still has to decide what exactly to do with it. He seems to be coming around to his fiancé’s inclination to not display the sturgeon in their living room.
“I've got to admit, it's kind of an ugly animal, so I don't blame her,” said Schneider. “I can't blame her at all."