Spearers enjoy last day of season on upriver lakes

Shirley Allen speared this 64.9-inch, 64.9-pound adult female sturgeon on Lake Poygan Feb. 13, 2018. (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

WINNECONNE (WLUK) -- We're only a quarter of the way through the 2018 sturgeon spearing season, and some of the activity is already coming to an end.

The harvest quota on the upriver lakes has been met, and anglers will soon be moving their shanties off the ice. The upriver lakes are located north and west of Oshkosh and flow into Lake Winnebago. They are made up of Lake Butte des Morts, Lake Winneconne, and Lake Poygan.

At Critters sturgeon registration station in Winneconne, Shirley Allen's fish was the first to arrive Tuesday morning,

"We got the DNR report last night, that today's going to be the last day," said Allen, who lives in Eureka. "So we thought well, got to get out there and pay attention."

Her 64.9-inch, 64.9-pound adult female sturgeon added to the season quota.

Brayden Litton's adult female sturgeon did too.

"Just sitting there, and it came in from the outside corner, and basically came right to the decoy," said Litton, who lives in Omro.

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The upriver lakes season got off to a strong start and continued through Tuesday.

"I figured with the water clarity conditions that we had on the upriver lakes coming into the season, and that people were already seeing fish before the season started, that we probably would have a season that would go into Wednesday or Thursday, So we're pretty close to that area, looks like the season's probably going to close today," said Ryan Koenigs, sturgeon biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Five hundred licenses are available each year for the upriver lakes through a lottery system. Koenigs says the three lakes are popular spearing spots because many sturgeon stage in the area before heading up the Wolf River to spawn.

"There's also a higher percentage of juvenile immature fish in the upriver lakes," Koenigs said. "That shallower area serves as a nursery grounds for some of those smaller fish."

Back at Critters, Allen says this late-season sturgeon is headed for the smoker.

"I feel great," she said. "Now we got to take it home and butcher it up."

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