February 11, 2024 – Fond du Lac Co., WI – Even with a slower weekend, there are always some big fish registered. Today’s biggest fish, speared by Jacob Disterhaft, was a 71.2-inch, 110.7 pound, F4 female.
After an opening day notable for its warmth, it seemed that the cooler temperatures overnight brought a few more spearers out to the ice for day 2 of the 2024 season. A total of 49 lake sturgeon were speared on Lake Winnebago (11 juvenile females, 15 adult females and 23 males).
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Once again, most of the harvest came from the western areas of Lake Winnebago, with 5 lake sturgeon registered at both the Downtown Oshkosh and Neenah stations, respectively and 31 registered at the Southwest Winnebago station.
Additionally, more spearers were seen taking to the Upriver Lakes to try their luck. There were 15 lake sturgeon registered Upriver today (1 juvenile female, 3 adult females and 11 males).
After this opening weekend, 122 lake sturgeon have been speared throughout the Winnebago system (19 juvenile females, 33 adult females and 70 males).
Even with a slower weekend, there are always some big fish registered. Today’s biggest fish, speared by Jacob Disterhaft, was a 71.2-inch, 110.7 pound, F4 female.
Although there were fewer people out on the ice this weekend compared to normal openers, the warmer weather hasn’t stopped spearers from passing on this tradition. Robert Tenorio was successful today in spearing a 53.3-inch, 22.4-pound male with the next generation of spearers helping him make sure he appropriately registers his fish at a DNR registration station.
Until ice conditions improve around Lake Winnebago, we are closing the Stockbridge, Quinney and Neenah registration stations. The North Winnebago, Downtown Oshkosh, Southwest Winnebago and Pipe registration stations will remain open for those heading out on Monday, as will all Upriver registration stations.
We will continue to include registration station updates in our daily emails, or you can check the DNR Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing webpage for updates.
For spearers who plan to take to the ice Monday, please remember no ice is safe ice.
Additional information on the Winnebago system sturgeon spearing season can be found on the DNR website.
During Saturday’s aerial counts, just over 450 shacks and pop-ups were counted on Lake Winnebago. In 2023, there were 3,000 shanties on opening and 6,000 in 2022. The majority of shacks were observed in the southwest portion of the lake.
For those who did go out, many found themselves in pop-ups instead of their regular shacks, walking all their gear about 300 yards from shore to their spearing spots.
Where people could get out, good water clarity was reported around the system.
Opening day on Lake Winnebago saw the harvest of 45 lake sturgeon (29 males, 12 adult females, and 4 males). The Southwest Winnebago registration station was the busiest, likely due to the ice conditions, and had 32 lake sturgeon come through with 22 males, 7 adult females, and 3 males.
The Upriver Lakes also had less effort than standard opening days, with only 170 shacks and pop-ups observed on Lake Poygan and 42 on Lake Butte des Morts. Although the Upriver season started slowly, 13 lake sturgeon were harvested (7 males, 3 adult females, and 3 juvenile females).
Despite the weather, the DNR teams heard exciting success stories at the registration stations.
The first fish for the season came into Downtown Oshkosh around 9:30 a.m., weighing 24.8 pounds and measuring in at 49.6 inches, and speared by Ben Berger.
Karlee Sue Lamb was also successful with her first-ever lake sturgeon, a 52.4-inch, 24.3-pound female.
There were also two fish over 100 pounds registered today – a 113.6-pound, 77-inch F1 female harvested on Lake Winnebago by Jon Sauer and a 104.3-pound, 68.9-inch F4 female harvested on Lake Butte de Morts by Jason Reinke.
For those planning on heading out Sunday, please remember no ice is safe ice. For everyone else, we encourage all interested to visit the DNR’s registration stations to celebrate this unique opening weekend.