Thursday afternoon, after six days, sturgeon spearing ended on Winnebago and the Upriver Lakes in Wisconsin with 82 sturgeon topping 100 pounds. Here's the recap, maybe most notable are sturgeon guru Ron Bruch's remarks at the end.
Sturgeon Season closed at 12:30 Thursday; today's harvest is 163
Winnebago & Up River Lakes Report for Thursday, February 18, 2010
OSHKOSH -The 2010 sturgeon spearing season ended Thursday, February 18, at 12:30 p.m. The total 2010 sturgeon harvest is 1,820 consisting of 270 juvenile females, 801 adult females and 749 males. Eighty-two fish were taken that were 100 pounds or more.
Thursday's take on Lake Winnebago was 144 sturgeon including 99 females (26 juvenile females and 73 adult females) and 45 males. On the Upriver Lakes, the take was 19 including 8 females (4 juvenile and 5 adult females) and 11 males.
Spearers had several overcast days, but otherwise enjoyed outstanding weather for the six days of this sturgeon season. Ice was excellent and water was clear in most places and only cloudy in a few.
Sturgeon season is usually a celebration of the winter season and of camaraderie between old and new friends, and this year was no exception. It is also a time for grandparents, parents and kids to get to know each other better in pursuit of the common goal of pulling a big fish out of the waters of the Winnebago pool. And after it is all over, there follows a year of making preparations for doing it all again next February.
"Now that the 2010 season is history, my crew and I will be working the data up over the next month of so and working with our sturgeon advisory board to assess the season and make recommendations for possible new harvest regulations and management actions," said Ron Bruch, DNR Senior Sturgeon Biologist.
Bruch expects to be asked two questions as a follow-up to this season. The first asks if the number of large fish taken this season will be a problem for the stock? The second asks if exceeding the adult female harvest cap by 61 fish will cause a problem for the stock? He answers that given the trends as the population has been building over the last 15 years -- more larger and older fish, very robust population overall - it is very unlikely that the harvest was over the limit.
Bruch and his DNR fisheries staff have the data they need to tell them exactly what the exploitation rate was this season and whether the harvest even came close to the harvest limit of 5% of the overall population. "Nearly 20 years and 22 new regulations later, we are experiencing a world class, unique sturgeon fishery that all stakeholders, public and agency together, have tremendous ownership in, and take great pride in," said Bruch. "And the results are a fishery that is often viewed as a model for effective sturgeon harvest management."