DNR fish biologist Dave Bartz of Wautoma registers a 116-pound sturgeon at Wendt's on the Lake on Saturday. / Aileen Andrews / For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com
Sturgeon spearing traditions were renewed over the last few days, as the 2013 Sturgeon Spear Fishery on the Winnebago System got underway.
Opening day was one of mixed results, and for the most part went as predicted.
Due to less-than-ideal ice conditions on Lake Winnebago and poor water clarity, the total harvest from Lake Winnebago was low, with a total of 39 sturgeon being harvested. Spearers on the Upriver Lakes were much more successful, harvesting a total of 140 fish, according to Saturday's report from the DNR.
More on sturgeon season: More headlines and video | Tweets collected during the season | Browse photos from the 2013 season | Browse photos from the 2012 season | Share your sturgeon photos | Watch cameras on the Wolf River | Watch cameras positioned in Stockbridge
The big fish trend continues to show up in the harvest, with nine of the 179 fish harvested on the system today being 100 pounds or larger.
The harvest of these large fish has almost completely re-written record books over the last eight years. In fact, nine of the top ten fish in the record books were taken between 2004 and 2012.
This year has started as no exception. An 80-inch, 179-pound fish harvested by Peter Vander Weilen and registered at Quinney today is the sixth largest fish reported as harvested on the Lake Winnebago System.
Registration stations on the Northern end of Lake Winnebago were pretty quiet Saturday. In fact, no fish were registered at any of the stations at Payneís Point, Waverly Beach and Harrison Town Hall.
Spearers cited poor water clarity in these areas as the primary reason for the poor harvest.
Success was better along the east and west shores of Lake Winnebago, but overall harvest numbers were still low due to poor water clarity.
Given the current conditions on Lake Winnebago and the low harvest rates, it looks as though there may be another full 16-day day season.
Aerial shanty counts for Saturday indicated that 2,724 shanties were present on Lake Winnebago, and that 397 shanties were in place on the Upriver Lakes. These numbers are up slightly from last year (2,197), but down from 2011 (4,321).
Similar to last year, spearers were very successful on opening day of the Upriver Lakes fishery. The season there will continue tomorrow, but has the chance to close tomorrow or the days after.
A total of 46 adult females were harvested today, meaning that the season is 29 adult females short of the 90 percent trigger and 37 adult females away from the 100 percent trigger. Therefore, Sunday, Feb. 10, would be the last day of the Upriver Lakes fishery if 37 or more adult females are harvested, while spearers will still be able to fish Monday if 29 to 36 adult females are harvested.