Sturgeon Report : Day 16

DNR Sturgeon Biologist Ryan Koenigs Writes,


The 2017 sturgeon spearing season on the Winnebago System
is now complete. As expected, things ended in a slow fashion with only 10 fish
harvested over the last 7 days of the season (8 on Monday, 1 on Tuesday, 1 on
Wednesday, and 0 fish each of the last 4 days).  The season still closes
with a total harvest of 847 fish (552 from Lake Winnebago and 295 from the
Upriver Lakes).


I’ve been asked to summarize this season in a few
sentences and overall I would say this was a successful season for the
following reasons:

  1. Opening day shanty counts
    (>5,000 shacks) indicate that many license holders were able to take
    part in the early part of the season. Thus another season provided
    opportunities to renew traditions and create memories. 
    Large fish in the harvest. We had
    9 fish harvested that were 140 pounds or larger. In comparison there were
    only 12 fish of this size harvested within the last 4 seasons combined (3
    in 2013; 8 in 2014; 0 in 2015; 1 in 2016).   We can’t control Mother Nature and
    climate, but 2017 was another safe season as spearers were able to take
    part in the sport safely.
  2. 847 license holders were able to
    fill their tag. This is down from averages over the last decade, but still
    the largest recreational spear harvest for sturgeon in the world and an
    increase over last season (703 fish).


Here are a few highlights from the Lake Winnebago and
Upriver Lakes seasons.


Lake Winnebago:

  • Harvest of 552 fish from Lake
    Winnebago ranks 45th highest out of 77 seasons dating back
    to 1941 (reference PDF attached; harvest data unknown for 1944 and 1945
  • 46 fish 100 pounds or larger
    harvested, including 9 fish 140 pounds or larger
  • 8.3% of harvest fish 100 pounds or
    larger. This is the 2nd highest value on record dating
    back to 1955, behind only 2013 (9.5% of harvest). Stark increase from 2015
    and 2016 seasons that each had 2.0% of the Lake Winnebago harvest be fish
    100+ pounds.
  • 5,074 shanties on opening day was
    the 2nd highest shanty count on record behind only 2009
    (5,958 shanties).
  • 5th full 16-day
    season within the last 7 years; only 2014 and 2015 seasons reached harvest
    caps early.

Upriver Lakes:

  • Harvest of 295 fish 7th largest
    harvest since lottery fishery implemented in 2007 (11 seasons; average
    harvest 297.2 sturgeon/season).
  • First full 16-day season since
    lottery fishery implemented, largely because of increased harvest caps
    over recent seasons.
  • 8 fish 100 pounds or larger
    harvested (2.7%) down slightly from last season (3.6% of