Sturgeon spearing gear reflects angler ingenuity

Adam Broehm holds sturgeon spear, January 31, 2018 (WLUK/Eric Peterson) 

STOCKBRIDGE (WLUK) -- Thousands of anglers are gearing up for the 2018 sturgeon spearing season on the Lake Winnebago System.

From spears to shanties, there is plenty of equipment to get in order. But what does it take to gear up?

Opening day for sturgeon spearing is about 10 days away, and many are ready for some fishing.

"We get pretty excited when it comes to this time of the year," said Scott Broehm of Stockbridge.

Each February, about 13,000 people sit inside tiny shacks scattered over the Lake Winnebago system. They stare into 48 square-foot holes cut in the ice, waiting, and hoping to spear the prehistoric fish.

Broehm says sturgeon spearing is a unique sport, in need of unique equipment.

"It's not just go to the store and buy it. It's all put together by hands, and people's imaginations," he said.

Broehm says his custom-made sled saw can slice through four feet of ice. Steel-tipped wooden poles push large blocks of ice away from a freshly-cut spearing hole.

"Talked to a buddy of mine, and he made a pipe pole with a regular rod, solid steel rod, a little heavier, so it doesn't bend, and they work better," said Broehm.

Scott's son Adam Broehm says a broomstick-bucket combination is called a skimmer.

"Put holes in the bottom, so the water can come through. and the ice stays in the pail here. Put a nice handle on there, and they work very good," said Adam Broehm.

Inside a brand new spearing shack,

"This one here is six by ten," said Broehm.

From the spear hooks on the rafters, to the decoy on the wall, everything has a purpose. Broehm says 40 years of experience are paying off.

"I'm proud of this shack, I wish we would've started building these quite a while ago," he said.

And then there's the spear.

"This is all water-jet cut. And the handle is turned on a lathe. It's weighted nice. It's a perfect spear," said Broehm.

All that gear will soon be put to the test.

The ritual begins Saturday, February 10, at 7:00 a.m. The season is scheduled for 16 days, but would end earlier once the safe harvest caps are reached.

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