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GatorBait

Sconnie Sturgeon Extravaganza!!

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It's that time of year again, the big ol'shacks pulled off the ice holes, the spears are rigged up and the gaf's are sharpened. Thousands of anglers will be hitting the Winnebago system this upcoming weekend for Sturgeon Spearing.

Myself will be joining the crowd on Winnebago this year in hopes to sticking one through the 4x6 opening of my shack. We have plenty of ice, a bit too much snow, great clarity and plentiful numbers of sturgeon. Predictions are out for a 2-3day season which doesn't happen to often.

Check out my HSO Insider Blog for the step by step process on our rich tradition. Even my lil 5yr old girl will be helping us set up for the hunt this year.

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I understand that there's a "tradition" to spearing these guys in Wisconsin, and I understand that the DNR manages the spearing quotas so that they won't ever have an issue with total decimation of the sturgeon population. However, I still don't understand what makes a guy want to take a fish out of the lake that's been there for 75 to 100 years (or longer). Must taste REALLY good. Yeah, I understand that it's legal. Just not sure how that makes it a good idea.

I'm not a peta member or tree hugger. I eat plenty of animals. I can buy lots of food at Cub foods, and I can catch plenty of fish on the lake. Anything I do eat tends to be renewable in much less than 100 years. I selectively harvest plenty of fish to eat throughout the year -- crappies and walleyes mostly. Anything I do keep is of the size structure that it can be replaced naturally in less than 5 years. Those 20+ inch walleyes go back in the water, as do all sturgeon I catch. Crappies, pheasants, deer, ducks, geese, beef, pork, chicken. Yup, I can go through all the meats I eat, and none of them are older than me.

I guess I've just never seen a good explanation of why it's a good idea to take 100 year old fish out of the lake for food. Can you tell me? What is the big attraction to killing a fish that's older than you, just for food (and from what I hear, not all that great of food unless it is smoked, which makes anything taste good -- including carp).

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Good luck Gatorbait. I hope you guys have a great time:) I've never experienced it first hand, but a couple friends have said it is nothing short of a blast!

Aanderud, this has been taking place for many, many years. The lake can obviously sustain it, and the DNR keeps a close eye on the harvest and population.

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Conditions: On the big girl of Winnebago you will find anywhere from 22 to 27 inches of ice. Water clarity has been holding steady at 15 to 18ft respectively. Most cracks have been sitting still, there are plenty of bridges out to ensure safe travel. Please contact the bridge owners if you believe it's setup is deteriorating. With the amount of traffic this week, they get worked over pretty good.

Lots of fish reported in the Oshkosh area, onward south towards Wendt's. I'll have more updates after scouting the next 3 days coming up, along with some Lake Poygan and Butte Des Mortes updates. Stay Tuned!!

!!Caution!!

There are reports of a lot of drifts 3 to 4 feet high. Be safe, pick a good route, drive responsible. Bring a tow strap and a shovel. A friend of a friend snapped a torsion bar on his truck driving in the other day, which would have left him stranded had he not been in a group.

Stay safe my friends and Good Luck on the Ice!

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Aanderud, this has been taking place for many, many years. The lake can obviously sustain it, and the DNR keeps a close eye on the harvest and population.

As I said, I understand that it's an old tradition and that the DNR manages it so that it doesn't get totally out of hand. I was simply asking why it seems like a good idea to kill these nonrenewable fish.

Maybe it's fine, maybe it isn't. But, the fact that something is an old tradition doesn't necessarily make it a good idea or give it immunity to scrutiny. What's the big draw?

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Why is it legal to keep a 50" muskie?.......30" walleye?.......22" bass?........ from any fishery that allows it?

They are taking mature fish out of a fishery that can handle the pressure and sustain quality w/numbers. Get over it...... ain't exactly the same as carver county....

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Why is it legal to keep a 50" muskie?.......30" walleye?.......22" bass?........ from any fishery that allows it?

They are taking mature fish out of a fishery that can handle the pressure and sustain quality w/numbers. Get over it...... ain't exactly the same as carver county....

I didn't ask why it was LEGAL. I asked why people get so excited about killing 100 year old fish.

To use your analagy -- nobody that I know think it's exciting to kill and eat a 50 inch muskie. Or a 22 inch bass. Or a 32 inch walleye. If people were posting threads about killing and eating 32 inch walleyes and 50 inch muskies, I think you'd get a similar question. (and I might add that NONE of these walleyes/muskies/bass would be over 20 years old -- they're all renewable, and yet they are STILL highly respected by their fishermen, for the most part. As opposed to these 100 year old dinosaur sturgeon).

So, you still didn't answer the question -- unless your answe was "it's exciting and a great idea simply because it's legal". I can tell you hundreds of things that are LEGAL that aren't necessarily a good idea.

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You have a viable point, but as we talk with DNR Biologists, who's only job every day is to help the sturgeon population will tell you that the numbers of sturgeon available in our system will never be threatened by spearing seasons due to the management efforts.

The population numbers are estimated at over 50,000 adult female/male sturgeon. This doesn't include juveniles. Over the 20yrs that I've been doing this, there never has been a reason to think that we won't have this sport in 50yrs. They put so much science/study/money into this that it would take a specie based disease to wipe them out.

So we look at spearer's. This year there are 11,500 liscenses sold. Harvest caps are set at 320 Juv Females, 745 Adult Females, 960 Adult Males. Hitting just one of those marks, or within a certain percentage by days end will trigger a season closure. In 2013, there were only 306 fish taken in the full 16 day season. Your success rate as you can tell by the numbers is extremely low. I speared 16yrs before I successfully speared my first fish. And it's not uncommon to hear that from others.

A seperate spearing lottery is setup for Lake Poygan and Lake Butte Des Mortes. Harvest caps are set at 80 Juv Females 83 Adult Females and 240 Adult Males. There are only 500 liscenses available which are ran through a point/lottery system. About a 7yr wait for this tag. This seperatism is due to the shallow waters, clearer water and smaller lakes. They used to open these lakes everyother 5yrs, well everyone obviously chose to spear here due to those conditions which in turn made for a huge harvest. So, yet again, another mangement strategy that was made and is working well. Regulations set in place are to limit the spearing of only 5% or less of the estimated population. This has evidently helped fish reach a much older age and larger size.

There is plenty of studies on the net about this process that gets into great detail. I have no problems throwing a spear at a dinosaur. It's been in my family since the 50's and would never turn it down. It's similar to deer hunting, you get that buck fever, you are throwing a spear at fish in the water that you know isn't a piece of cake and you are doing your part to help manage the population. And for taste, the younger fish taste well in the deep frier and is a nice white flaky meat. The problem with the older ones is the amount of fat on them, which if you don't spend hours removing it, it taints the meat horribly. Hence why most just smoke them. Hope this helps with your questions.

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Neat-o

That's a really intelligent response. I guess the answer speaks for itself. You first compared sturgeon to walleyes and muskies, which are 5x more renewable than sturgeon. Then when point it out, this is your only response?

I also pointed out that if there was a thread in the MN central forum, or the WI forum, or the muskie forum, or the bass forum celebrating the killing/eating of trophy bass/muskies/walleyes (which YOU condoned above simply based on the legality), you have no response to that either?

I was HOPING to see a better rationale, but I guess this is the quality of response I actually EXPECTED to see.

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First off, I'd like to say THANK YOU GatorBait for the intelligent response. All of this looks like pretty valid reasons to spear.

You have a viable point

...

the numbers of sturgeon available in our system will never be threatened by spearing seasons due to the management efforts.

...

...

They put so much science/study/money into this that it would take a specie based disease to wipe them out.

...

So we look at spearer's. This year there are 11,500 liscenses sold. Harvest caps are set at 320 Juv Females, 745 Adult Females, 960 Adult Males. Hitting just one of those marks, or within a certain percentage by days end will trigger a season closure. In 2013, there were only 306 fish taken in the full 16 day season. Your success rate as you can tell by the numbers is extremely low. I speared 16yrs before I successfully speared my first fish. And it's not uncommon to hear that from others.

...

...

There are only 500 liscenses available which are ran through a point/lottery system. About a 7yr wait for this tag. This seperatism is due to the shallow waters, clearer water and smaller lakes.

...

So, yet again, another mangement strategy that was made and is working well.

...

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Or are you claiming that they reach an older age now versus if they would not have regulations at all. So, SOME regulation is good. What's to say more regulation wouldn't be better?

Yes, because of the regulations put in place within the last 15yrs, we have been able to allow these fish grow older and bigger in size. To be honest, more regulations right now would probably kill the sport all together. We as a group work and respect the biologists and want to do what we can to keep this sport alive. They ask us what we would like to see done and they take that into consideration greatly.

If you look at the vast area the Winnebago system covers, the acreage of lakes and 100's of miles of rivers that are connected, there are many fish that will never be seen by a human.

For example:

Spearing used to be 24hr/day for the 16day season. It is now 6hrs, 7am-1pm. Thus the use of lights under water were banned. Instead of 384 possible hours to spear, you now only have 96hrs available.

Harvest totals are based of past year harvest numbers and all the science that goes into it. Some years it's more, like this year due to very low number last year, other years it's much lower, which will probably be next year. You never hear a moan about it.

The use of potato peels, corn, silt, anything that you could put down the hole to brighten the bottom up has been banned. If you can't bring it out of the hole it can't go down. Some use a cross or T section of pvc pipe to help assist with bottom recognition. The above mentioned helped see fish a lot easier than if you didn't have anything at all.

SturgeonGuard was implemented which volunteers line the riverbanks of areas susceptible to poachers during their spawning season. A great strategy, highly publicized and effective tool to ensure our fish are safe.

To answer your last part about being skeptical if all this is helping. A chart that was put together during a study by our Biologist shows a steady incline since 1955 when the tracking all started. 1955 you were looking at roughly 7,000 fish which as of 1995 was at 45,000. That tells me, something is being done correctly to obtain a steady population incline like that. But again, there are so many things that are being done to ensure it's happening. Spearing and reg's are just the tip of the iceberg.

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