Sturgeon spearing season outlook

Vehicles on a frozen Lake Winnebago near Oshkosh, Feb. 4, 2016. (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

Sturgeon spearing is just a little more than a week away on the Lake Winnebago system, and it looks like conditions will be cloudy, under water, at least.

The Department of Natural Resources says that will impact the upcoming season.

Craig Larson and Dustin Emerson hit the ice on Lake Winnebago near Oshkosh Thursday morning.

"Only been out a few times, caught quite a few fish. Try her out, see what happens," said Dustin Emerson, Oshkosh.

The fishermen say the ice is at least a foot thick.

"The ice is a little rough. The shove ice from earlier in the season, but it's not bad getting around," said Craig Larson, Oshkosh.

The two are also scouting conditions under water for the upcoming sturgeon spearing season.

"Water clarity, as I say, six feet, ain't too good," said Larson.

"The water is pretty dirty right now. We did some checking last week. We had four to seven feet of clarity throughout Lake Winnebago, on the average of six feet," said Ryan Koenigs, DNR Sturgeon Biologist.

Koenigs says a warm wet December, and late freeze on Lake Winnebago caused the cloudy conditions.

"People might focus on shallower water, where they have better visibility," he said.

Koenigs says a good hatch of the fish Gizzard Shad will help.

"And typically when those hatches occur, it concentrates fish more on the south end, and it's a bit shallower down there, so that might benefit some spearers as well," he said.

Koenigs says fishermen will have more sturgeon to choose. The harvest cap for adult females will be 950. That's an increase of about fifteen percent over the last two years.

Koenigs says water clarity could mean a longer season, but spear fishermen we talked to say they won't miss it.

"Well, it's spearing. I got to get out and do it. So, if it's dirty, I'm still going to be out there. It doesn't matter," said Larson.

"You just got to do what you got to do. I mean, you ain't going to spear one on your couch, you got to be out there to get one you know. No matter what the clarity, you got to be out," said Emerson.

The steel bridges allowing travel for trucks and cars are expected to be installed Friday in Oshkosh.

You can read more about the steel bridges here.

The sturgeon spearing season begins February 13th.

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