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Thin ice and open water on Lake Winnebago may have helped keep the number of sturgeon speared down during the 2012 season, but it didnít create the safety issues many had feared.

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ďWinnebago sturgeon spearers, as Iíve said many times, are as good as anyone in the world at reading ice and traveling on it safely,Ē said Ron Bruch of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Spearers took 566 sturgeon between Feb. 11 and 26, 324 on Lake Winnebago and 242 on Upriver Lakes.

The season ended with 18 sturgeon speared Sunday on Lake Winnebago, 13 adult females, 4 males and 1 juvenile female. Big fish for the day was taken by David Ehlke of Oshkosh, a 114.6 pound, 71 inch female registered at Jerryís Bar in Oshkosh.

It was a season with low
totals, but some big fish. Thirty-six fish, 6.3 percent of the 566 speared were 100 pounds or larger, Bruch said.

Season totals on Lake Winnebago include: 45 juvenile females, 165 adults females and 114 males. On Upriver Lakes spearers took 25 juvenile females, 86 adult females and 131 males.

Spearers took less than ľ of the total harvest cap for the 2012 season which had been set at 2,428 sturgeon on Upriver Lakes and Lake Winnebago.

Spearers that havenít done so already have until Sunday, March 4, to remove their shanties/shelters from the ice.

Those looking forward to heading out next year can begin purchasing 2013 sturgeon spearing season licenses at the end of March.

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