Dennis Anderson

Dennis Anderson has been a Star Tribune outdoors columnist since 1993, before which, for 13 years, he held the same position at the Pioneer Press. He enjoys casting and shooting. Dogs, too, and horses. Also kids and, occasionally, crusading in his column for improved conservation.

More than 1,200 sturgeon taken in Winnebago system after three days of spearing

Posted by: Dennis Anderson under Fishing Updated: February 15, 2010 - 4:25 PM

After three days of spearing on Wisconsin's Lake Winnebago and the Upriver Lakes, 1,295 fish have been taken, including 62 fish weighing 100 pounds or more.

The biggest sturgeon, pictured here, weighed 212.2 pounds and is a new Wisconsin sturgeon spearing record.

The special season, which is reguated closely by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, could close as early as Tuesday, depending on spearing action.

The DNR said spearing success was faster Monday than is typical during the annual spearing season, which begins each winter on a Saturday. On Monday, 241 fish were registered,  including 12 fish larger than 100 pounds.
 
Here is the harvest breakdown for Monday.
 
Lake Winnebago:  32 juvenile females, 92 adult females, 74 males. TOTAL of 198

Upriver Lakes:  1 juvenile female. 13 adult females. 29 males. TOTAL of 43

SYSTEM-WIDE:  33 juvenile females; 105 adult females; 103 males; TOTAL of 241
 
Totals for the season to date:
 
SYSTEM-WIDE:  194 juvenile females. 571 adult females. 530 males. TOTAL of 1295 (including 63 fish 100 pounds or larger).

Amazed by the 212.2 pound sturgeon? Most people are. Here, from the Wisconsin DNR, are interesting facts about the huge fish:

The sturgeon harvested Saturday was a record not only for Lake Winnebago, but also a new sturgeon spearing record for Wisconsin.  The previous record sturgeon taken by spear in the state was a 195 pound fish harvested on May 20, 1979, from Pokegama Lake in Vilas County on the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation.  Although we have not yet aged the Winnebago record sturgeon (we hope to get fin and ear bone samples from the fish to estimate its exact age), it is likely around 100 years old which means:
 
This fish hatched from an egg laid by its mother approximately in the year 1910 - at that time the lake sturgeon stocks on the Great Lakes were nearly decimated from commercial overharvest, driven to such low levels between 1880 and 1910 that even after 100 years of protection, the stocks in Lake Michigan are just now beginning to show some meager signs of recovery.
 
This fish would have become legal size for the Winnebago spear fishery in 1918 - the year the U.S. entered World War I (sturgeon harvest on  the Lake Winnebago System was closed from 1915 to 1932; the first modern spear fishery on Lake Winnebago opened in the winter of 1931-32 with a 30" minimum size limit and a five fish per spearer season bag limit.  This fish therefore was legal size for all 78 spearing seasons held since 1932.)
 
This fish would have likely first spawned approximately in 1936 - the year President Franklin Roosevelt dedicated the Hoover Dam.
 
This fish would have made spawning runs up the Wolf River 19 times in its life (females only spawn once every 4 years after they reach maturity at the average age of 27); would have laid a total 11.4 millions eggs in its lifetime, and produced an estimated 228 one-year-old lake sturgeon.
 


 

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