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!