MADISON, Wis. - The deadline to purchase licenses for the 2020 Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing season is Oct. 31, with state biologists forecasting great opportunities to land the fish of a lifetime.
"The lake sturgeon population in the Winnebago System is robust, both in terms of abundance and size. The adult population contains more fish than we have had in decades and includes a strong representation of 100+ pound fish," says Ryan Koenigs, Department of Natural Resources Winnebago System sturgeon biologist. "As always, the biggest driver of spearing success will be water clarity, and we will not have an idea what clarity will be like until the weeks leading up to the 2020 season."
The spearing season will open Feb. 8, 2020, with separate but simultaneous seasons for Lake Winnebago and the Upriver Lakes of Butte des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan. Participation in the Upriver Lakes season is determined by a drawing that operates off a preference point system. The seasons run for a maximum of 16 days or until pre-set harvest caps are reached.
How and where to get spearing licenses
License costs are $20 for residents and $65 for non-residents and can be purchased by visiting GoWild.Wi.gov or in person at a license sales location.
The minimum spearing age is 12 years old. Youth who turn 12 between Nov. 1 and the last day of the 2020 spearing season can purchase a spearing license after Oct. 31. Military personnel home on leave can also purchase a license after the Oct. 31 deadline.
There are unlimited license sales for the Lake Winnebago spear fishery, while the Upriver Lakes fishery is managed by a preference point system and limited to 500 permitted spearers per season. Once a person is authorized to purchase an Upriver Lakes license, they are not able to purchase a license for Lake Winnebago.
For more information on harvest trends and management of the Lake Winnebago sturgeon fishery, check the DNR website here.