February 10, 2020 – There were 32 lake sturgeon harvested during day 3 of the 2020 sturgeon spearing season on the Winnebago System. The 13 fish registered from Lake Winnebago today bring the season total to 87 fish, while the 19 fish registered on the Upriver Lakes bring that season total to 143 fish.
The southern registration stations on Lake Winnebago continue to see the highest registration numbers. A more detailed breakdown of today’s harvest is available through the following link:
The largest fish registered on Lake Winnebago today was 90.1 pounds (70.7 inches) and brought into Payne’s Point by Patrick Roggow.
The largest fish taken from the Upriver Lakes was 84.1 pounds (66.9 inches) and registered at Boom Bay by Jayme Prey.
Due to the slow pace of the 2020 spearing season, we will be closing our registration stations at Quinney, Jerry’s Bar, Payne’s Point, and Boom Bay for the remainder of the week (Tuesday-Friday). We anticipate reopening these stations for Saturday and Sunday of weekend #2. Successful spearers can register their fish at Waverly Beach, Stockbridge Harbor, Jim and Linda’s, and Wendts on Lake Winnebago and at either Critter’s or Indian Point on the Upriver Lakes.
Sturgeon spearing is a sport that requires a lot of patience and perseverance. Every year our staff working at registration stations are excited to hear stories of spearers who have been waiting for years, sometimes decades, to harvest their first fish. Kaitlyn Ortlieb registered her first sturgeon at Stockbridge Harbor on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020 and her story went well beyond the 61.2 pound (60.6 inch) fish itself. Kaitlyn recalls sitting with her father since she was roughly 5 years old; she’s now 29. In all those years, she recalls seeing one fish speared while she was sitting with her father. Things changed on Sunday and it was her turn to throw the spear. Ironically, Kaitlyn was not sitting with her father and she says she may never sit with him again after getting her first fish this past weekend. Congratulations Kaitlyn on your first fish.
Today’s Vignette: “The 1950 Sturgeon Spearing Season”
Most spearing enthusiasts are aware of the rich history associated with sturgeon spearing on the Winnebago System. Over the past few years, I’ve tried to convey some of this history in my daily reports and I plan to continue that trend this season. Today I will provide insight into the 1950 spear harvest that was held on Lake Winnebago. The 1950 spearing season was open from February 1-March 1 (29 days) and was regulated by a 30″ minimum length limit. Mandatory registration of harvested lake sturgeon wasn’t required until the 1955 season, so harvest during the 1950 season was estimated via catch cards where spearers could voluntarily report their catch. A document describing the 1950 spearing season is available through the link below. A few highlights from the season:
Cost of spearing licenses increased from $0.05 to $1 per license.
2,019 unique license holders.
Spearers could purchase up to five licenses.
Harvest estimated at 793 fish when extrapolating harvest reporting out to all license holders.
Many spearers reported harvesting multiple fish.
Reported sex ratio of 73 males to 28 females is likely inaccurate as many spearers likely reported F1 females (no visible eggs) as males. The sex ratio of the 2019 Lake Winnebago harvest was 57% females and 43% males. Accurately determining sex and reproductive stage of harvested fish is important to the current management program. Thus, the need to maintain in-person registration of all harvested lake sturgeon.