In the wake of a major snowstorm that pushed through the Fox Valley on Sunday, just one sturgeon was speared Monday on the Lake Winnebago System.
The fish, a 62.3-pound, 63-inch male was registered at Waverly Beach on the north end of Lake Winnebago by Brad Buksyk of Neenah.
That raises the 2011 season total to 1,322 fish, with 989 speared on Lake Winnebago and 333 on the upriver lakes of Butte des Morts, Poygan and Winneconne.
The season officially ended Monday on the upriver lakes. A full 16-day season ends Sunday on Lake Winnebago, unless a target cap trigger causes it to end earlier, which appears increasingly unlikely.
Authorities are keeping the Calumet Harbor, Quinney and Harrison Town Hall registration stations closed until further notice, with spearers on the east shore of Lake Winnebago asked to register their fish at Stockbridge.
The record low for a daily tally was zero set on several days during the 1969 and 1973 seasons, according to state Department of Natural Resources sturgeon expert Ron Bruch. Both of those seasons ended with a registered harvest of just eight fish.
"In both 1969 and 1973, poor travel conditions on the lake, similar to this year, in addition to terrible water clarity, resulted in the low harvests in those years," Bruch said Monday. "Also, the Winnebago sturgeon population was at a critical low point at this time, which contributed to the lower harvests overall."
Bruch said the cloudy water, which was common throughout the 1960s, '70s and '80s, was both dreaded and despised by spearers. However, the resulting low harvests contributed to the recovery of the sturgeon stock in the lake, which had been severely diminished by years of overharvest, both legal and illegal, from the 1930s through the '50s.
Bruch said the years of poor harvests led a number of spearers, including Bill Casper, Dan Groeschel, Bob Blanck, Vic Schneider and Lloyd Lemke, to form the first chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow in 1977 to help improve the Winnebago sturgeon population.
Since then four other chapters have formed around the Lake Winnebago System and the group has funded over $750,000 of projects in sturgeon management and research, including the annual Sturgeon Guard Program, and the upper Fox Sturgeon Restoration Project.