(PRESS RELEASE) OSHKOSH, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would like to remind interested spearers that they have until Oct. 31, 2020 to purchase a license for the 2021 Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing season.
The spearing season for this prehistoric fish will open on Feb. 13, 2021 for Lake Winnebago and the Upriver Lakes of Butte des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan, running for a maximum of 16 days or until any of the pre-determined harvest caps are reached.
“Every February, people migrate to the Winnebago System to take part in the annual lake sturgeon spear fishery,” said Ryan Koenigs, DNR Winnebago sturgeon biologist. “This winter event is rich in tradition, and 2021 will be another year for spearers to uphold or create new traditions in pursuit of the fish of a lifetime.”
All license holders must be a minimum of 12 years old. Licenses for the Lake Winnebago spear fishery must be purchased before Oct. 31, 2020, except for military personnel home on leave during the spearing season and youth turning 12 years old between Nov. 1, 2020 and the last day of the 2021 spearing season.
While there are unlimited licenses available for Lake Winnebago, the Upriver Lakes fishery is managed by a preference point system and limited to 500 permitted spearers. Applicants authorized for an Upriver Lakes tag have until the start of the spearing season to purchase a license and cannot purchase one for Lake Winnebago.
The sale of sturgeon spearing licenses funds a variety of sturgeon management activities on the Winnebago system, such as successfully restoring lake sturgeon to the upper Wolf River in partnership with the the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin.
The DNR’s involvement in lake sturgeon rehabilitation programs and partnerships with the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have positively impacted lake sturgeon recovery efforts across North America.
“This funding is the lifeblood of our management program. It allows the DNR to assess the population, implement habitat projects, conduct research projects and implement the best management for this world-renowned resource,” Koenigs said.
More information on harvest trends and management for the Lake Winnebago sturgeon fishery can be found on the DNR’s fisheries webpage.