Sturgeon spearing season harvest totals

OSHKOSH (WLUK) -- The 2017 sturgeon spearing season is over.

It came to a quiet end, with nothing speared the last four days, however some spearers had luck, earlier in the season.

A line of toppled trees stretched across open water on Lake Winnebago near Oshkosh on Monday morning. Spearing officially wrapped up Sunday, but biologists say the 16-day season got off to a good start.

"We had over 5,000 shacks out on opening day, meaning that a good portion of the license holders were able to get out and take part in some duraiton of the season, even if it was just opening weekend," said Ryan Koenigs, DNR Sturgeon Biologist.

Koenigs says the total system harvest is 847 fish. That includes 552 from Lake Winnebago, and 295 from the Upriver Lakes of Poygan, Winneconne, and Butte des Morts.

Koenigs says on Winnebago, poor water clarity was a factor, and throughout the system, a mid-February thaw, kept many spearers off the ice.

"The lake actually broke up on Friday. So, through the last seven days of the season, we only registered 10 fish. Eight on Monday, and then one each Tuesday, Wednesday, and the last four days of the season, we didn't have any fish registered," he said.

And bigger fish were taken as well. On Lake Winnebago, nine sturgeon tipped the scales at more than 140 pounds. That total of nine fish is three times higher than the seasons' average dating back to 2013.

"They were in healthy condition, largely because of the strong gizzard shad hatch that we had in 2016, providing that fatty food source for the sturgeon," said Koenigs.

Koenigs says the Department of Natural Resources collected 474 sturgeon heads, as part of a comprehensive project to study age in the prehistoric fish.

"One of the advantages of having a slower season is, while we were not registering fish like we normally would be, we had our staff entering data, and starting to clean up the season already," he said.

Next for the biologists, is surveying fish during the spawning run.

That typically takes place on The Embarrass River, The Fox River and The Wolf River near the end of April.

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