OSHKOSH, Wis. – A giant among Wisconsin’s inland fresh water fishes, the bottom‐dwelling lake sturgeon is a living fossil – a relic from the Middle Ages of fish evolution.
The Winnebago system is home to one of the largest lake sturgeon populations in North America and is one of only two locations where lake sturgeon can be harvested with a spear.
The state’s annual sturgeon spearing season begins Feb. 12 and runs for 16 days (Feb. 27), or until any of the pre-determined harvest caps are met.
The system-wide harvest caps for the 2022 season are 400 juvenile females, 875 adult females and 1,200 males.
Water appears to be a bit clearer in the northern portion of the lake, with fairly uniform visibility across Lake Winnebago. If stable weather patterns continue leading up to the sturgeon spearing season, spearers could see improved water clarity, but a longer spearing season is still anticipated.
Any person who spears a sturgeon must accompany their fish to an official sturgeon registration station, and any harvested sturgeon must be registered by 2 p.m. on the day it was speared.
The DNR reminds spearers that any fish harvested from Lake Winnebago must be registered at one of the registration stations on Lake Winnebago. Likewise, any fish harvested from lakes Poygan, Butte des Morts, or Winneconne, must be registered at one of the Upriver Lakes registration stations.
Please check the 2022 sturgeon spearing regulations for more information on the registration process.
Spearers are reminded that no ice is ever 100% safe and are urged to check with local fishing clubs and conservation groups near the area they plan to spear for local ice condition information.
These groups regularly monitor conditions and maintain access points and ice roads. The DNR does not monitor ice conditions. Find safety tips on the ice safety webpage.
Sturgeon spearing in Wisconsin is a sport rich in tradition. The DNR would love to see your highlights of the season. Photos of spearers with their catch, cutting in, shanty life, scenic views observed during the season, or any other captivating spearing traditions are encouraged. Please include a brief description for use in future outreach efforts. Send us your photos using this photo submission form.