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Sturgeon spawning underway in Shiocton

Sturgeon spawning under water in Wolf River at Bamboo Bend in Shiocton, April 17, 2017 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

SHIOCTON, Wis. (WLUK) -- The warm weekend weather likely triggered an unusual spring tradition in Northeast Wisconsin.

The sturgeon spawning run is underway in parts of the Wolf River.

The fish spend most of their time in the Lake Winnebago System, but during the run, the giant prehistoric fish are easy to see at locations on the Wolf and Embarrass rivers.

Just as they've done for generations, thousands of lake sturgeon are moving their way up the Wolf River to spawn. And at a place called Bamboo Bend in Shiocton, hundreds of people line the shoreline. Matt Reinke and his 7-year-old son, Mason, drove from Winneconne Monday morning.

"I wanted to see the sturgeon," Mason Reinke said. "They are like big sharks in the sea."

"He's never seen it before. I figured I would bring him up to check it out. A little more exciting than sitting in the shack, sturgeon spearing," said Matt Reinke.

"Yes, they're a very big fish. And they just seem to swarm each other, so it's pretty cool," said Haley Wagner of Francis Creek.

"With Saturday's and Sunday's warm weather, the water temperature came back up. And in the mid-50s, and that's the range when the sturgeon start to typically spawn," said Ryan Koenigs, DNR Sturgeon Biologist.

Koenigs says in addition to Bamboo Bend, sturgeon are spawning on the Wolf River near New London.

"We're seeing some big fish," he said.

Koenigs says Department of Natural Resources crews netted and tagged about 200 fish from both locations Monday, including a 78-inch monster in Shiocton.

"They're huge. To me, they're huge. But it's amazing that they get such a variety of lengths, They don't know what they're getting, but whatever they come up with, it's beautiful," said Donna Hoelzel, Neenah.

"These are the good old days. I would say. We've got more fish now than we've had probably in 50 years or longer. And within the population, we've also got more big fish than we've had in probably even longer than that," said Koenigs.

The spawning run is expected to continue at Bamboo Bend for another couple days. Experts say the run could move to the Shawano Dam by Thursday or Friday.

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