STOCKBRIDGE - It wasn't all that bad a day to be a sturgeon on Lake Winnebago. Spearers registered just 17 fish on opening day of the 2013 sturgeon spearing season, one of them belonging to 13-year-old Mitchell Ecker.
"It's kind of cool knowing you get a fish and it's a rare thing to get one," said Ecker, from Stockbridge. "Not a lot of people can have most of the luck to get one."
He's right – only seven sturgeon were registered at the Harbor Bar in Stockbridge. Odds are always long to catch one of the prehistoric fish: according to numbers from the Wisconsin DNR, over the last five years, only about 13% of people who bought sturgeon spearing licenses took home a sturgeon.
"That's kind of what keeps people coming back, when they do get a fish it really means something, because it doesn't happen every day, it doesn't happen every year," said DNR sturgeon biologist Ryan Koenigs.
Koenigs says poor water quality on Lake Winnebago, and questionable ice conditions on the lake's west side were big contributing factors.
"What we're seeing come in at our stations so far this morning suggests we're going to be in the long haul for a full 16-day season, unless conditions improve, which they could," said Koenigs.
This would be the third-straight 16-day season on Lake Winnebago. Spearers agree that water quality will be the main culprit.
"We're seeing about 6-8 feet, that's about it, in about 18 feet of water," said Kaukauna's Chris Glasheen. "That's all I've been hearing is the same thing. To get one this year is real lucky."
Sturgeon spearing season lasts until Feburary 24th, or until certain harvest caps are met, triggering an early end to the season.
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