"The Frozen Chosen" debuts in Fond du Lac

A sturgeon spearing hole on Lake Winnebago. (WLUK file photo)
A sturgeon spearing hole on Lake Winnebago. (WLUK file photo)

FOND DU LAC - A Wisconsin-made documentary about sturgeon spearing, called "The Frozen Chosen," debuted Thursday less than 36 hours before this year's season opens.

Al Schumacher, 96, has been sturgeon spearing since it became legal on Lake Winnebago in the early 1930's.  He told FOX 11 his best memory is a trip he made with his grandson in 2011.

"I got that big one, 125 pounds. He was going to throw the spear and I said, 'you just hold it!  That one's mine,'" said Schumacher.

Schumacher is known in all corners of the lake as the oldest spearer.

"Everyone's like, 'really? 96?!' and I'm like, 'yeah!' And everybody thinks it's amazing," said his grandson Kevin Schumacher.

That story is part of Appleton filmmaker Steve Boettcher's documentary about sturgeon spearing "The Frozen Chosen."

Watch the trailer for "The Frozen Chosen":

Boettcher is an Emmy award winner and University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh grad who started his professional career as a photographer here at WLUK. For him, the topic hits close to home.

"This is the only place on the globe you can do sturgeon spearing. No other place is like this and I think our people have so much passion for it," Boettcher explained.

The film follows two families, the Schumachers and Muches, over three spearing seasons.

"When I saw it I was like, 'oh my gosh!'  I mean, he is the artist that put this all together," said Paul Muche.

"To be a small cog in the wheel of this is exciting," said Boettcher.

One of Boettcher's goals? To show the excitement of spearing.

"You go from such a low to such a high in just an incredibly short amount of time," Muche explained.

The camaraderie is on display too. The Schumachers have been spearing for five generations.

"We've got 20 shanties out there right now!" exclaimed Al Schumacher.

"It's a huge thing in our family and everybody knows that.  It's not about getting that fish, it's being out there with the family," said Kevin Schumacher.

So will you see Al Schumacher on the ice this year?

"If I live that long!" he exclaimed.

Barely a day to go!