DNR talks Water Clarity on Lake Winnebago ahead of Sturgeon Spearing

The start of sturgeon spearing on the Lake Winnebago System
is upon us, as spearers will hit the ice of Lake Winnebago and the upriver
lakes to start the season tomorrow morning. The DNR has continued to keep an
eye on water clarity on Lake Winnebago as the season draws nearer, and Sturgeon
Biologist Ryan Koenigs says the visibility so far depends on where you are on
the lake. “What we’re hearing, for the most part, is up to 12 feet of visibility
on the northern end and on the east shore of the lake, and on the southern end,
five to nine feet of visibility,” Koenigs said. He adds that the poor clarity
isn’t all that much of a surprise, considering stretches of mild weather creat
snow melt and runoff that can impact the clarity very quickly.

What does the current clarity level mean for the length of
the season? Koenigs says low visibility could lead to a full 16-day spearing
season. “Typically when we have a clarity of 12 feet or more, on average, on
Lake Winnebago, that’s when we’re more likely to reach the harvest caps and end
up with an early season closure. Based on the data we have right now, I’m
anticipating a full 16-day season on Lake Winnebago, which would be the fourth
straight year,” Koenigs said. He adds the harvest still totaled over 650 fish taken
from Lake Winnebago last year with worse water clarity than they have seen this

The season officially begins at 7 o’clock tomorrow morning,
with spearers able to fish until 1 pm each day for 16 days, or until the
harvest caps are met.