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About the sturgeon spearing season

Each year in February, hearty men, women and young people stake out their spots on Lake Winnebago and occasionally other waterways in the Winnebago system in hopes of spearing a one-of-a-kind fish. Sturgeon, sometimes called "living fossils," are a primitive species of fish dating back millions of years. The fish, which have tubular mouths and torpedo-shaped bodies covered with rows of bony plates, can grow to enormous sizes. Spear fishermen cut large holes in the ice, place a shanty overtop, then sit and stare, waiting for a prize to swim underneath. This year's season is Feb. 12 through Feb. 27 on Lake Winnebago, or until the pre-set harvest cap for Lake WInnebago or the pre-set Winnebago system-wide harvest cap is reached, whichever comes first.
More information: State Department of Natural Resources sturgeon hotline, 920-303-5444.

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OSHKOSH The state Department of Natural Resources says there will be a record number of sturgeon spearers this year.

More than 12,400 licenses were sold before the Oct. 31 deadline. Last year was the last record with nearly 10,900.

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Sturgeon biologist Ron Bruch said Tuesday that license numbers have been increasing every year. They are up 46 percent since the 2007 season.

Bruch says spearing interest has increased because of the DNR's success in managing the population and a recent book and Imax movie on the fish.

Spearers must have licenses for the Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing season or the upriver lakes (Butte des Morts, Poygan and Winneconne) season. Both start Feb. 12. There's a limit of one sturgeon per person.

The DNR has increased harvest caps this year because of a growing population.

During last year's spearing season, 1,820 fish were harvested.

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