The triggers were hit and sturgeon spearing on both Winnebago and the Upriver Lakes will end at 12:30 today. There's a couple nuggets about size structure at the end of Wednesday's recap that I want to mull a bit more.
Here's the Wednesday report from the Wisconsin DNR:
Sturgeon Season will close at 12:30 Thursday; today's harvest is 179
Winnebago & Up River Lakes Report for Wednesday, February 17, 2010
OSHKOSH, Wis. -The 2010 sturgeon spearing season will end Thursday, February 18, at 12:30 p.m. after 90% harvest closure triggers were hit today on both Lake Winnebago and the Upriver Lakes," says DNR Senior Sturgeon Biologist Ron Bruch. To date the total 5-day harvest is 1657 comprised of 240 juvenile females, 723 adult females and 694 males, including 78 fish 100 pounds or larger.
Wednesday's Lake Winnebago take was 159 sturgeon including 90 females (26 juvenile females and 64 adult females) and 69 males. .
On the Upriver Lakes, the take was 20 including 6 females (1 juvenile and 5 adult females) and 14 males.
System-wide a total of 179 sturgeon registered Wednesday -- 27 juvenile females; 69 adult females; 83 males including 7 fish larger than 100 pounds.
This has been a banner season with 78 of the big fish weighing in at 100 pounds or more. Sturgeon biologists have been tracking the 100 pounders harvested from Winnebago since the first year of mandatory registration in 1955. The 56 year average is 0.9% of the Lake Winnebago harvest are fish 100 pounds in weight or larger.
This percentage of large fish has changed through time, starting in the 1950's at a relatively decent average rate of 1.3% which held fairly well around 1% through the 1970's says Bruch. The rate began to drop through the 1980's and 90's followed by a dramatic increase in the 100 pound plus percentage which has increased very significantly to an average of 1.58% since 2000.
Bruch feels the size and condition of the sturgeon fishery in the Winnebago Pool is a testament to the long-running management program has been designed to create a stable sturgeon population comprised of adults out to 100 years or more in age which are the largest fish in the population and make up 99% of the fish harvested at 100 pounds or larger. The program also means increased survival of these fish and the opportunity for them to live to an older age and larger size.
"Overall though," said Bruch, "there is no doubt that we have more big fish in the system."