Sturgeon harvested on opening day
At a glance
• Juvenile Females: 6
• Adult Females: 16
• Males: 17
• Total: 39
• Juvenile Females: 12
• Adult Females: 46
• Males: 82
• Total: 140
Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Jacob Keup only needed to sit in his ice shanty for about an hour Saturday morning before he speared his sturgeon.
About 20 minutes after a cloud of mud was stirred up on the bottom of Lake Winneconne, Keup said the sturgeon came into view, clear as day. Knowing he would only be able to spear this weekend, Keup grabbed his spear and launched it at the fish’s head.
“It’s not the biggest thing,” said Keup of the second sturgeon he’s speared. “But I’ve got to pay my dues before I get the big one. So I’m happy.”
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
Keup’s sturgeon was one of 179 fish speared on opening day of the 2013 sturgeon season.
Of the fish that were harvested Saturday, nine weighed in at more than 100 pounds, including a 179-pound, 80-inch fish at the registration station in Quinney on the east side of Lake Winnebago. That fish is the sixth largest harvested on record, Koenigs said.
“The day went as we expected it would,” Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Winnebago Sturgeon Biologist Ryan Koenigs said. “When the water is not clear, like it is now, the harvest is typically down, especially on Lake Winnebago.”
DNR officials have said poor ice conditions and low water clarity could hamper spearers on Lake Winnebago. The season is expected to last the entire 16 days, Koenigs said.
However, spearers on the Upriver lakes — lakes Butte des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan — were lining up to register their fish Saturday morning. A total of 140 fish, including six topping 100 pounds, were harvested on the Upriver Lakes and Koenigs said he expected that season to close in the next few days.
Mark Rochwite, of Campbellsport, needed less than three hours Saturday morning to spear his sturgeon.
Rochwite, who has been spearing for eight years, speared a 64-pound sturgeon on Lake Winneconne and brought the fish to the DNR sturgeon registration station at Critters Wolf River Sports in Winneconne shortly before 8:30 a.m.
It’s a fish that almost survived the morning.
“At first I was going to let it go and wait for another one,” Rochwite said. “But then I though, oh it’s too big. I can’t let it go.”
While it wasn’t the first sturgeon he’s speared, Roy Nation did have one surprise when he brought his fish into the registration station.
Nation speared a 75.4-pound sturgeon in Lake Poygan about8:15 a.m. and when he brought the 67.2-inch fish into the registration station in Winneconne, he learned it was a female fish that had black egg caviar, something he hadn’t encountered in his previous spearing efforts.
“It was a little big of a struggle to get out of the water, but it was all about the fun,” Nation said.
While the Upriver Lakes were busy, spearers on Lake Winnebago weren’t so lucky.
Thirty-nine fish were harvested on Lake Winnebago on opening day, with no fish being registered at three registration stations.
“Today’s been pretty slow,” said Chad Leanna, a fisheries technician who was working at the Payne’s Point registration station, one of the locations where no sturgeon where registered. “I think it’ll pick up. It depends on the weather. If it gets a little sunnier out, I think it’ll be better.”
As Lisa Levenhagen watched her husband Dan and their 7-year-old son Gavin load up the all-terrain vehicles at the Black Wolf boat landing Saturday for the trip out to their shanty on Lake Winnebago, she had one hope.
“I’ve been going three years and I haven’t seen one yet,” Levenhagen said. “I’d like to see (Dan) get one.”
Jennifer K. Woldt: (920) 426-6676 or email@example.com. Danielle Beyer contributed to this report.