What a start to sturgon spearing Saturday on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin. Ron Grishaber of Appleton, Wis. registered a 212.2 pound, 84.2-inch sturgeon Saturday morning. I find it even more interesting that a record of 34 sturgeon of 100 pounds or heavier were registered opening day.
Here is the first day report.:
Winnebago sturgeon spearers harvest 656 on opening day
Winnebago & Up River Lakes Report for Saturday, February 13, 2010
OSHKOSH -It was a record smashing day on Lake Winnebago today for the start of the 2010 sturgeon spearing season. Fish biologists working on the Winnebago Pool of lakes have been handling fish in their spring spawning surveys in excess of 200 pounds for several years now, and finally one of these large super-trophies has shown up in the spear harvest. Ron Grishaber of Appleton registered a 212.2 pound, 84.2" sturgeon this morning at the Harrison Registration Station, west of the village of Sherwood.
Another record - the largest male sturgeon ever registered in the spear harvest -- 116.8 pounds, 71 inches -- was brought in to the Winneconne registration station at Critters.
Also a record number of fish greater than or equal to 100 pounds were registered today - 34. Thirty-one of these were taken from Lake Winnebago and 3 were taken on the Upriver Lakes.
Both the Lake Winnebago and Upriver Lakes seasons are set to run from February 13 through February 28 unless spearers reach pre-set harvest caps. According to Ron Bruch, DNR Senior Sturgeon Biologist, it is possible the Upriver lakes could hit either the 90% trigger by 12:30 PM tomorrow (Sunday) which would mean the season would close Monday at 12:30 PM; or possibly hit the 100% trigger by close of fishing on Sunday which would close the season on the Upriver Lakes at 12:30 PM Sunday.
Harvest caps for Lake Winnebago are set at 280 juvenile females, 666 adult females and 800 males. Caps for the Upriver Lakes are set at 70 juvenile females, 74 adult females and 200 adult males. Caps for the entire Winnebago System are 350 juvenile females, 740 adult females and 1,000 males.
Saturday's Lake Winnebago take was 515 including 324 female sturgeon (68 juvenile females and 256 adult females) and 191 males. Lake Winnebago is at 38.4% of its adult female harvest cap (343 to go to hit 90% closure trigger; 410 to go to hit 100% closure trigger).
On the Upriver Lakes, the take was 141 including 66 females (28 juvenile and 38 adult females) and 75 males. Upriver Lakes are at 51.4% of their adult female cap (29 to go to hit 90% closure trigger; 36 to go to hit 100% closure trigger).
System-wide, there were 656 sturgeon taken Saturday -- 96 juvenile females; 294 adult females; 266 males.
Commenting on the number of very large fish in the Winnebago Pool population, Bruch says his team has seen it increasing over the last 15 years due to regulations developed by DNR fisheries staff and the Winnebago Citizens Sturgeon Advisory Committee. These regulations were implemented in the 1990's and were designed to decrease the annual exploitation of adult female sturgeon (which are the largest fish in the stock, but the most vulnerable to overharvest). Another reason for these regulations was due to large hatches of sturgeon over a 20-30 year period in the early 1900s that are now entering the super-trophy size in their life. Lake sturgeon, especially females, are believed to be able to live for 150 years or more. The 212 lb record breaker harvested today has not been aged yet, but it likely in excess of 100 years old.
Monday's report indicated the triggers to shut the season would likely be hit today. If that happens, I will repost.