This year's sturgeon spearing season starts Saturday and is expected to produce a big harvest. / Aileen Andrews/Gannett Wisconsin Media
Clear water, several feet of ice and a healthy population could combine to shatter records Saturday as sturgeon spearers take to Lake Winnebago.
Beginning at 7 a.m. — 30 minutes later than previous years — spearers will stare into green rectangular holes sliced by chainsaws, looking for the spine-backed monsters.
“We anticipate we’ll hit the caps this year before the 16-day maximum, after three years of going the full season,” said Ryan Koenigs, the Department of Natural Resources sturgeon biologist. “Things are shaping up for a very successful season.”
Spearers will encounter 14 to 16 feet of visibility and more than 30 inches of ice in many places.
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Last year’s 179-pound biggest catch could be beaten by one of the 80-plus-year-old sturgeon known to be looming in the deep water, feasting on gizzard shad and lake fly larvae.
“There are record-breakers out there,” Koenigs said. “But they don’t get to 200 pounds and 90 years old without dodging decades of seasons.”
More on sturgeon season: More headlines and video | Browse photos from the 2014 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