FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WSAU) -- An annual fishing tradition is back as the sturgeon spearing season opens up on Lake Winnebago.
The season officials opens on Saturday, and DNR Sturgeon biologist Ryan Koenigs says the harvest will run for 16 days, or until their annual harvest cap has been reached. "We actually have our harvest caps set in three categories: juvenile females, adult females and males. And we set these caps every year's fishery so we keep the harvest at or below a sustainable level." Those permits to spear are applied for in the fall before the season in order for the DNR to get ready for each winter's harvest.
Part of that preparation is making sure the state has an accurate count of how many fish are in the lake. "We'll use those estimates to project how many fish can be harvested while sustaining the population for future generations." Koenigs says the state wants to preserve the fishery which brings in $3.5 million each year to the local economy.
And even if you didn't draw a license, Koenigs says you should come out and enjoy the Winnebago ice. "Whether it's sitting with a family member or a friend who has a license, or just coming out to visit and taking part in the social aspect of the sport." Each year the lake turns into a veritable ice shanty city with several thousand people out on the ice.
Fishing this year is projected to be favorable with good ice cover and more seasonable conditions projected for the weekend.