Champion sturgeon caught in Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin last year by Ed “Al” Blatz measured 78 inches and weighed a whopping 172 pounds (click to enlarge)
The sturgeon season on Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago got off to a fast and tragic start on Saturday according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as a pair died when their truck crashed through the ice near an ice crack that originated in Quinney, Wisconsin. A third man fell through the ice, which was obscured by soupy conditions in the 50 degree heat. Many vehicles drive out onto the ice each winter, which is 18 to 28 inches thick. Ice roads are maintained by local fishing clubs, but treacherous cracks often appear.
The sturgeon fishing is done with multi-pronged spears through holes in the ice, and the catch is carefully controlled by the State of Wisconsin to preserve the sturgeon population in the lake. Around 10,000 licenses are granted per year, and at the start of this year’s two-week season this last Satruday, over 6000 fishing shacks appeared on the ice. The lake is the state’s largest, running from Fond du Lac at its southern tip to Appleton at the northern edge, a distance of 30 miles.
Caught fish are cut up into sturgeon steaks and frozen, and the eggs are preserved as caviar. (I have a bottle in my freezer is anyone wants to try it.)
Spear used for sturgeon fishing, somewhat battered