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Q: I know we have the annual sturgeon spearing on Lake Winnebago and the upriver lakes of Butte des Morts, Poygan and Winneconne. How many other Wisconsin waters have sturgeon, and what are the regulations for fishing or spearing them?

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A: Lake sturgeon inhabit every major river system in Wisconsin, including the Fox, Wolf, Menominee, Wisconsin, Chippewa, St. Croix and Mississippi. The huge, torpedo-shaped fish also live in the Great Lakes, from which they get their name.

The greatest concentration of lake sturgeon, though, occurs in the Lake Winnebago System, which includes the Upper Fox and Wolf rivers.

Ron Bruch, a sturgeon biologist for the state Department of Natural Resources, said the system contains an estimated 100,000 sturgeon. The primitive, bottom-feeding fish can live to be 100 years old.

“This is the largest population of this species in the world,” Bruch said.

Lake Winnebago and the upriver lakes are one of only two places in North America where fishermen can spear sturgeon through the ice.

The other, Black Lake in Northern Michigan, pales by comparison. Its annual harvest cap is five sturgeon. The harvest cap for the Lake Winnebago area is nearly 2,400 sturgeon.

The DNR manages a fall hook and line sturgeon season on the lower Wisconsin, Flambeau and Chippewa rivers and on several other waters, including Butternut Lake in Price County and Yellow Lake in Burnett County. To harvest a sturgeon, an angler needs to purchase a $20 tag.

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