Feb. 10, 2024 Harvest Update
Today marked what will likely be a very memorable opening day for many spearers around the Winnebago system. Warm weather, rain and wind in the days leading up to the season kept many spearers off the ice for opening day.
During today’s aerial counts, just over 450 shacks and pop-ups were counted on Lake Winnebago. In 2023, there were 3,000 shanties on opening and 6,000 in 2022. The majority of shacks were observed in the southwest portion of the lake.
For those who did go out, many found themselves in pop-ups instead of their regular shacks, walking all their gear about 300 yards from shore to their spearing spots.
Where people could get out, good water clarity was reported around the system.
Opening day on Lake Winnebago saw the harvest of 45 lake sturgeon (29 males, 12 adult females, and 4 males). The Southwest Winnebago registration station was the busiest, likely due to the ice conditions, and had 32 lake sturgeon come through with 22 males, 7 adult females, and 3 males.
The Upriver Lakes also had less effort than standard opening days, with only 170 shacks and pop-ups observed on Lake Poygan and 42 on Lake Butte des Morts. Although the Upriver season started slowly, 13 lake sturgeon were harvested (7 males, 3 adult females, and 3 juvenile females).
View the full details in today’s harvest report.
Despite the weather, the DNR teams heard exciting success stories at the registration stations.
The first fish for the season came into Downtown Oshkosh around 9:30 a.m., weighing 24.8 pounds and measuring in at 49.6 inches, and speared by Ben Berger.
Karlee Sue Lamb was also successful with her first-ever lake sturgeon, a 52.4-inch, 24.3-pound female.
There were also two fish over 100 pounds that were registered today – a 113.6-pound, 77-inch F1 female harvested on Lake Winnebago by Jon Sauer and a 104.3-pound, 68.9-inch F4 female harvested on Lake Butte de Morts by Jason Reinke.
Congratulations to all successful spearers today!
For those planning on heading out tomorrow, please remember that no ice is safe ice. For everyone else, we encourage all interested to visit the DNR’s registration stations to celebrate this unique opening weekend.
Karlee Sue Lamb with her first ever lake sturgeon (52.4-inch, 24.6-pound, F1 female) speared on Feb. 10, 2024.
No Ice Is 100% Safe
Here are a few basic ice safety tips to remember:
- Carry a cell phone, and let people know where you are going and when you’ll return home.
- Wear proper clothing and equipment, including a life jacket or a float coat, to help you stay afloat and to help maintain body heat.
- Wear ice creepers attached to boots to prevent slipping on clear ice.
- Carry a spud bar to check the ice while walking to new areas.
- Carry a few spikes and a length of light rope in an easily accessible pocket to help pull yourself – or others – out of the ice.
- If you fall in, remain as calm as possible. While attempting to get out of the water, call for help. Anyone who attempts to rescue you should use a rope or something similar to avoid falling through themselves.
- Do not travel in unfamiliar areas or at night.
Have a plan in place noting where you will be and when you plan to return. Along with leaving a written note of your plans, keeping a charged cell phone is also recommended.
Check out the DNR’s Ice Safety webpage for more information on staying safe on the ice, including tips for creating ice claws and what to do if you fall through ice.
Additional information on the Winnebago system sturgeon spearing season can be found on the DNR website.