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FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ron Bruch (920) 424-3059

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OSHKOSH -- Sturgeon spearers will want to make sure they've purchased their sturgeon spearing license by midnight Oct. 31, 2011, to get another good shot at landing a really big fish in the 2011 Lake Winnebago System spearing seasons.

More on sturgeon season: Watch cameras on the Wolf River | More sturgeon season headlines

A record number of fish weighing more than 100 pounds -- 94 -- were harvested in 2011, and state fish surveys continue to show a large number of really big fish in the Winnebago system, says Ron Bruch, Department of Natural Resources fisheries supervisor.

"The probability of another fish in the harvest over 200 pounds increases each year," Bruch says. "We're seeing a shift in the fish population to include more older and larger fish, thanks to the strategies we began putting in place in the early 1990s to better protect vulnerable adult female fish.

"That's good news for spearers in 2012, and we expect another excellent season if water clarity is anything better than poor next February."

Spearing licenses are required for spearers to participate in the Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing season or the Upriver Lakes season, which both start at the same time, Feb. 11, 2012. Licenses are $20 for residents and $65 for non-residents and can be purchased in three convenient ways:

* Buy over the Internet through the Online Licensing Center;
* Call toll-free 1-877-WI LICENSE (1-877-945-4236); at license sales locations; or
* Buy at any one of the 1,400 located throughout Wisconsin license agents.

Last season, the 94 fish more than 100 pounds that spearers registered equaled about 6.6 percent of the total 1,426 fish harvested, and that's well up from less than 1 percent, which was common 20 years ago, Bruch says.

The reigning state fish record for a lake sturgeon harvested by spearing is a 212-pound lake sturgeon registered in 2010 by Ron Grishaber of Appleton. It was the first fish to exceed 200 pounds since DNR started requiring mandatory registration in 1955.

"We routinely see a few fish each year now during our population assessments that exceed 200 pounds, and 2012 may be the year another lucky spearer winds up in the record books," Bruch says.

More details about license requirements

The minimum age for spearing is 14. Youth who turn 14 between Nov. 1, 2011, and the last day of the 2012 spearing season can still buy a spearing license after Oct. 31. Military personnel home on leave can also purchase a license after Oct. 31 by visiting a DNR Service Center.

The number of licenses sold is not limited on Lake Winnebago, but is limited to 500 for the Upriver Lakes fishery. The Upriver Lakes fishery is managed through a drawing and 500 individuals who submitted an application before Aug. 1, 2011, were authorized to buy an Upriver Lakes sturgeon spearing license for the 2012 season. Once a person is authorized to buy an Upriver Lakes license for a season, he or she is not able to buy a license for Lake Winnebago. Those who applied for an Upriver Lakes license in the drawing but were not authorized received a preference point and can still buy a Lake Winnebago license before Oct. 31.

More news from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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