The two main concerns with the upcoming sturgeon spearing season are water clarity and ice conditions.
The water clarity out on Lake Winnebago is less than ideal, but still better than last year.
Spearers on the south side are looking at a slower harvest with about 6-to-9ft. of visibility, while the north end is closer to 12ft.
“Typically when we have 12 feet or greater on average throughout the whole lake, we’ll likely have a shortened season where we reach the harvest caps early,” said Ryan Koenigs, a sturgeon biologist with the Department of Natural Resources.
But with the see-saw of high and low temperatures recently, there could be a problem.
“This year, what we are hearing is that there are more cracks than normal, and a couple of new cracks that formed over the weekend with the warmer temperatures,” said Koenigs.
So, it’s really important for spearers to know where they’re going, what conditions are, and to exercise caution.”
Cracks are oftentimes in similar locations each year, so fishing clubs are your best bet for finding the nicest ice.
Still, the water quality could get worse in the next few days, causing the DNR to expect a below average harvest.
“The unknown is what water quality will look like this weekend and as the season goes on, because with the runoff this week and with the warmer temperatures isn’t going to help,” he said.
The 16-day season starts at 7am Saturday, February 9th, but spearers can cut their holes in the ice as early as 7am Thursday morning.