For the past 5-10 years we have been talking about the increasing number of big fish within the sturgeon population on the Winnebago System. During that time there have been two fish that have been discussed the most, the current state record (212.2 pound, 84.2”) fish that was harvested in 2010 and an 87.5” female lake sturgeon that was captured below the Shawano Paper Mill Dam in April 2012.
Today there were rumors circling of a very large fish on the ice on Lake Winnebago. The fish was brought into Wendt’s to be registered and measured 85.5” and weighed 171.0 pounds. Further, the fish had a PIT tag and when referenced against our database I learned that this fish was the large fish that was handled in 2012 below the Shawano Dam.
The 2-inch difference in measurements is likely attributable to a combination of measurement error (spring time with fish thrashing and harvest with the fish being partially frozen) and approximating the last few inches of length as our measuring boards only go to 84”. Congratulations to Jonathan Eiden of Appleton for harvesting the largest fish of the 2019 sturgeon spearing season to this point!
We have already been asked numerous times how old this fish may be. This is really a tough question to answer as age on these larger fish can be extremely variable. One thing is for certain, this was a very old fish. The fish was first handled in 2004 on the Wolf River and at that time it was measured at 84”. If we look at growth based on the recapture measurement from today, that fish grew 1.5” in 15 years. If we go from the measurement in 2012, the fish grew 3.5” in 15 years. Either way the fish had to be very old. I would estimate that this fish was between 100-130 years old, possibly even older.
Good luck to all of the spearers tomorrow and during the remainder of the season!