Monday, February 18, 2013

Second Weekend of Spearing Similar to the Opener

Despite last weekend's warmth and rain, water clarity on the south end of the lake continues to clear up, which has resulted in a shift of Sturgeon Spearers that have heard the good news.  Although it is clearing up, most spearers still cannot see to the bottom, so spearer's are relying on their decoys this year more than ever.  Staggering decoys at different depths can also prove productive, as a Sturgeon may initially drawn in by a lower decoy and then raise up to check the higher one.

Sturgeon have no natural predators one they reach a certain size, which many believe has something to do with their curious nature.  Sturgeon, unlike most fish, will actually see a decoy from a long distance away and swim right up to it, often nudging it with their nose just to see what it is.  Curiosity killed the cat, and in this case kills many Sturgeon every year on Lake Winnebago!

Ice conditions on the lake right now are as good as they have been all year.  Merritt Ave. in Oshkosh has 3 bridges for crossing the crack near shore (2 for vehicles, 1 for ATV's).  As of Sunday the bridges and landing were in great shape, with no slush and just some minor rutting starting to take place.  The fishing clubs off the East Shore have tree lines out, and there are many cars and minivans using the launches to get on the lake.  I witnessed this over the weekend, as I bet there were 30+ cars and 15+ minivans bombing around on the ice!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Opening Day of the 2013 Sturgeon Spearing Season is in the Books

Opening Day Video from
Opening Day Sturgeon Totals
Waverly 0
Harrison 0
Stockbridge 7
Quinney 8
Pipe 6
Wendt's 8
Jerry's (Oshkosh) 10
Paynes Point 0
Critters (Winneconne) 75
Indian Point (Poygan) 46
Boom Bay (Poygan) 19
Total 179
Lake Winnebago Total 39
Upriver Lakes Total 140

The numbers never lie, it was another tough start to the Annual Lake Winnebago Sturgeon Spearing Season! Despite less than favorable conditions for the opener, 2,724 shanties were counted around Lake Winnebago, meaning 1 in every 70 shanties came out with a Sturgeon!  When comparing these numbers to the Upriver Lakes, there is really no question that is the place to be this year!  Out of a total of 397 Shanties, 140 Sturgeon were registered, meaning 1 in every 3 shanties were successful! 

Water clarity continues to haunt spearers on Lake Winnebago, as the clarity continues to change by the day.  On average, spearers are seeing somewhere between 4-8 feet into the depths.  This kind of clarity is great for the Upper Lakes since spearers there are only spearing in 3-7 feet of water, but on Winnebago this means only seeing 1/3 to 3/4 of the way to the bottom.

Luckily there were not fatalities as a result of the Spearing Season, which was a large concern due to the varying ice conditions around the lake.

The season will likely end on Sunday or Monday for the Upriver Lakes, since 62 Adult Females were speared on opening day, while the trigger to end the season is set at 99.  The season on Lake Winnebago will most likely run the full 16 days, as rain in the forecast will further cloudy the already murky waters!

Foggy Morning Above & Below

Opening morning of the 2013 Lake Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing Season was a foggy one, on both sides of the ice.  Anglers were greeted with thick fog that covered the lake this morning, making for hazardous travel for spearers.  A GPS was essential to navigate the fog and find your shack this morning.  Once in the shack, many spearers have reported that the clarity they had yesterday had worsened overnight.  Most spearers are reporting 4-8 feet of water clartity, with the clearest areas having 9-10 feet of visibility.

A good tip to help improve visibility in your hole this season is to clear the snow surrounding your shack.  This allows sunlight to penetrate through the ice better, lightening things up and improving how far you can see. 

With rain forecasted to hit the Lake Winnebago area on Sunday, spearers need to keep in mind the effects the rain will have on ice conditions.  Generally rain causes high traffic areas like main roads and landings to deteriorate quickly.  Once the water on top of the ice finds somewhere to drain into the lake, that area will quickly begin to erode causing danger.  Plowed roads also tend to flood quickly when rain falls on snow covered ice, since the rain melts the snow on both sides of the road.  Play it safe and avoid these problem areas on Sunday if we get a good amount of rain!

The coming rain will also most likely further hinder water clarity, which is quickly making the 2013 Spearing Season a tough go for spearers.

If you are lucky enough to get a Sturgeon, please head over to the message board and post your pictures and a brief story!

Good luck to all spearers, and remember safety first!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Water Clarity Improving by the Day

Word has it that water clarity is improving out on Lake Winnebago with the snow cover and frigid temperatures we have had in place for the past week, which is a welcome sight for Sturgeon Spearers!  Generally, the further you go from the shoreline, the clearer the water becomes right now.  The only problem with this, is the fact that the water also gets deeper the further you go out!  I have also heard that the clearest water on the east shore is out from Stockbridge and Calumet County Park, but this could still change in the next few days before opening morning.

Here is a link to water clarity measurements taken today by the DNR.
Water Clarity Measurements

This cold weather has helped stiffen up the ice, but the snow cover is slowing the process down a bit.  I have heard that the ice that re-froze on the West shore after the entire ice sheet shifted east now has an average of 8" of ice on it.  This is not enough ice for a vehicle, but plenty for an ATV or snowmobile.  The east shore has better ice conditions overall, as there have been quite a few vehicles venturing out on that side of the lake.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sturgeon Spearing Opens Saturday

The 2013 Lake Winnebago Sturgeon Spearing Season will open up at 6:30am this Saturday, and will most likely be another full 16 day season like 2012 due to poor water clarity and variable ice conditions.  The upriver lakes, however, should be much more productive with the shallower water and fair water clarity.

Hopefully this pole will once again be filled this year!

Spearers need to keep safety in mind again this season, as ice conditions vary around the lake.  There are multiple areas on the lake with unsafe ice conditions; specifically the majority of the west shore is unsafe for truck travel due to the crazy ice shift that occurred only a couple weeks ago.  There are also cracks on the north end of the lake which are also making for unsafe truck travel in that area as well. 

Another safety hazard to be aware of is shack ventilation.  Make sure that your shack has some form of ventilation to ensure the Carbon Monoxide produced while running a propane heater will have a chance to escape, rather than build up to dangerous levels. 

Water clarity reports coming in from this past weekend indicate that the water is clearing up, but still not enough to make a huge difference.  Finding clearer water will be a huge key to success this season, so keep this in mind and do some scouting prior to opening day if you have time. 

Several of the local fishing clubs now have tree lines out on the main lake, including; Calumet County Park, Stockbridge, Pipe, and Fishermans Road.  Remember these clubs spend lots of time and money to allow access to anglers, so if you see them thank them for their efforts and drop them a little cash if you can.

Although I am not personally going to be spearing this season, I still plan on getting out on opening day to check on where people are spearing, check out the registration stations, and hopefully talk to a few lucky spearers!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Warm Weather Bad News for Spearers

With the roller coaster ride we have been on weather-wise,  the water clarity on Lake Winnebago has not had a chance to improve.  Snow-cover and consistent temperatures below freezing are the two main factors that allow the lake to really clear up over the winter months, which have been hard to come by this winter! 

Expect water clarity to actually get a bit worse with the run off from today's rain and 45° weather, and then hopefully begin to slowly improve with the next arctic blast which will arrive on Thursday.  With the poor ice conditions, poor visibilities, and new snow on the way, I expect another full Sturgeon Spearing Season, with lower than average harvest numbers, similar to last year.

Since we know there is going to be poor visibility for spearing this year, it brings up an interesting question.  What is your best bet, setup in shallow water where you can see to the bottom, or still spear the same areas where you know there are Sturgeon and set your decoys higher?  There is some debate on this argument, and I am not sure I have a good answer myself!

Regardless of conditions, fun will be had by many this season as I have found out that its not all about getting that Sturgeon, its a combination of the entire process, as well as spending time with close friends and making memories!

Make sure to visit the Message Board portion of the website and chime in on the debate!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Spearing Season Inching Closer

We are now less than two weeks away from opening day of the 2013 Lake Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing Season.  Once again mother nature has thrown us some curveballs, causing some unsafe ice conditions around the lake.  The long range forecast shows another shot of cold air before spearing season begins, but the general consensus is that the east shore has better ice conditions than the west shore.

There are several open water areas on the lake, as well as many large areas that have recently frozen over and only have 2-6" of ice on them, making for very dangerous vehicle travel.  My suggestion for spearers, check with the local fishing clubs before venturing out onto the ice.  There are many fishing clubs around the lake, and they put the time in to drill holes and check ice thickness, plow roads, place bridges over cracks, and mark unsafe areas.

A general rule on the lake that everyone should be aware of; standing trees mark a road, while trees laying down on the ice mark danger, whether it be open water, a crack, or location where someone has broken through.  Stakes are the other marker you will find on the lake, and they simply mark an old Sturgeon Spearing hole, which should also be avoided at all costs.

If you haven't already done so, now is the time to get your shack ready, fire up that saw, organize your spearing equipment, fill your propane tanks, and get ready for another action packed spearing season!  Make sure to check out the forums tab here on the site to see what people are talking about leading up to opening day!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lake Winnebago Ice Conditions 1/24/13

Here is a map with up to date ice conditions, showing the major cracks and open water areas that remain on Lake Winnebago.  Please take a good look at this map before heading out onto the lake.  The snow we get tonight and tomorrow will hide the cracks and areas that have recently frozen back over, making for an extremely dangerous situation for ice anglers!

Make sure to check back for more updated reports, as well as a few fishing reports!  Also make sure to check out SUNK? Dive and Ice Service's Facebook page for updated ice conditons!  Here is the link.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cold Weather Good News for Spearers

Mother Nature has finally brought some cold arctic air into northeast Wisconsin, which is great news for Sturgeon Spearers!  The long range forecast is calling for a brief moderation in temperatures and then another cold blast from Canada.

The ice on Lake Winnebago and Poygan held up fairly well this past weekend despite rain, wind, and mid forty degree temperatures.  The main lake now has 4-8 inches of solid ice, while the bays have upwards of 10"!

Water clarity is still murkier than desired for spearing, but expect it to improve with the cold temperatures in the forecast.

If you are looking to get out on the ice and catch some fish, Lake Poygan has been good for action.  Anglers are catching a mixed bag of Walleyes, Perch, Crappies, and White Bass.  White Bass are by far the most common fish being pulled through the ice, but a surprising amount of Crappies are also being caught.  The best areas include an area know as Horseshoe Hole, which is located in the middle of Lake Poygan, as well as the edges of the hole.

Being mobile is key right now, as there is lots of barren water out there.  A flasher is also key, since it will allow you to know what is happening underneath you!  Best lures include Jigging Rapalas, Swedish Pimples, Forage Minnows, Buckshot Rattle Spoons, and Castmasters.  Golds, silvers, and purples have been good for colors.

Make sure to check back for weekly updates on ice conditions, fishing reports, ans spearing information!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013 Lake Winnebago Sturgeon Spearing Season a Month Away

This winter seems to be flying by as the 2013 Sturgeon spearing season is only a month away!  Currently Lake Winnebago is ice covered, however ice depths vary from up to 8" in the protected bays to 2-3" in some areas of the main lake.

Water clarity throughout the lake remains murkier than normal for this time of year.  Hopefully water clarity will continue to slowly improve with the colder temperatures forecasted in the coming weeks.

Anglers all over the lake are reporting seeing large numbers of Shad down their holes, which means the Sturgeon will once again be well fed!

Be sure to check back as the season nears for daily ice reports, harvest numbers, clarity reports, and pictures of successful speakers!