Aaron O’Connell gives presentation on spearing sturgeon at fish hatchery
As part of the Lake Sturgeon Exhibit Lecture Series at the Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery Education Center, the public had the opportunity to attend a presentation given by UW-Stevens Point graduate student Aaron O’Connell on Sept. 1.
The subject of the late afternoon assembly was Hook ‘n Line and Spearing—Opportunities, Equipment, and Techniques. The harvesting of this prehistoric fish was also discussed.
Aaron works primarily on the Winnebago System and works with the DNR on rivers performing surveys. Working on the Winnebago System means that he has had first-hand experience with spears, their traditions, techniques, camaraderie, and the hype everyone feels during spearing season.
Aaron pointed out that the first regulated sturgeon spearing came in 1931 with 30-inches being the minimum size limit, 60-inches the maximum, and only five fish to be taken per season.
Basic equipment includes a spear, a dark enclosed shanty, and decoys. A large rectangular hole is cut into the ice, with the cut ice being shoved under the rest of the ice as far as possible. Then, the shanty is slid over the hole.
When it comes to using a hook and line for sturgeon, one has to be aware of some rivers have a catch and release policy. Otherwise, a heavier tackle, an accurate measuring board, and a large net is needed. Tactics include dropping the line into a deep hole at the bottom where sturgeons are more likely to be. Some anglers enjoy the challenges of reeling in their big catch of the day.