Sturgeon vignette –history of winnebago sturgeon spearing licenses

Sturgeon Vignette –History of Winnebago sturgeon spearing licenses
If you are part of a well established Winnebago sturgeon spearing family or
group, you may have heard one or more of the older members talk about the
days when they could buy 5 sturgeon tags for nickel a piece. Given that
today’s license costs $20 for the privilege of attempting to harvest just one fish,
you might think that Grandpa or Great-Uncle had one too many Vermox that
day (a traditional sturgeon spearing beverage, especially on the east shore of
Lake Winnebago).
Vermox or not they had their story straight – sturgeon tags
at one time did cost just 5 cents each, and each spearer could buy up to 5 a
season. Here’s a run down on how Winnebago sturgeon spearing licenses have
changed in format and cost over the years since the first modern day season in
First “modern era” sturgeon spearing season on Lake Winnebago. Spearers required to have a fishing license and then could purchase sturgeon tags for 5 cents a piece to spear on Lake Winnebago. Each spearer could purchase up to 5 tags per year at any time before, during or after the season. Tags could also be used to harvest sturgeon caught on fall set-line fishery on the Upriver Lakes, but set-line license was also required. Nickel sturgeon tags (up to 5 per year per person) could also be used to tag sturgeon caught in the fall hook and line fishery on the Wolf River in Winnebago and Waupaca Counties. Nickel sturgeon tags (up to 5 per year per person) could be used to tag sturgeon caught in the fall hook and line fishery on the Wolf River in Shawano County. (Note – hook and line fisheries were closed on river during most of WWII then re-opened, including the Outagamie County portions of the Wolf River in 1946.) Sturgeon tag price increased from 5 cents each to $1 each (spearing, set lines, and hook and line). Each person still required to first have fishing license and/or set-line license and could purchase up to 5 sturgeon tags per year. Set-line season eliminated and “experimental” annual Upriver Lakes winter sturgeon spearing season implemented. Spearers allowed to spear on both Lake Winnebago and the Upriver Lakes. Each person still required to first have a fishing license and could purchase up to 5 sturgeon tags per year for spearing and/or hook and line fisheries. Tags still $1 a piece. Hook and Line bag limit reduced to 3 sturgeon per year. Spearing bag limit still 5 but only 3 sturgeon could come from Lake Winnebago. Spearing on all waters and hook & line annual sturgeon bag limit reduced to 2. Tags still cost $1 each. Spearing bag limit on Upriver Lakes reduced to 1 fish; 2 fish limit retained on Lake Winnebago. Spearing bag limit reduced to 1 fish on Lake Winnebago. Tags still a buck. Spear fishery closed on the Upriver Lakes. 1950s – satisfied
sturgeon spearer
Separate sturgeon spearing license required at a cost of $2.50. Only persons 14 years or older could purchase a spearing license, and persons 16 and older still required to purchase a fishing license prior to purchasing a spearing license. Upriver Lakes spearing season re-opened but now instead of running concurrent with full season on Lake Winnebago, ran only for two days and only once every three years. Upriver Lakes spearing season reduced to only once every five years (remains two days). Conservation Patron license (all inclusive outdoor recreation license) includes sturgeon spearing tag for the Winnebago lakes. Harvest cap system of sturgeon harvest management implemented for Winnebago sturgeon spear fishery. Sturgeon spearing license fee increased to $20 for WI residents and $50 for non-residents (prior to this nonresidents paid extra for their fishing license but no extra for a sturgeon spearing license). The Winnebago sturgeon spearing tag was removed from the Conservation Patron license. Spearers were required to purchase their license no later than October 31 prior to the spearing season. Persons turning 14 years of age November 1 up to the end of the spearing season, and military personnel home on leave during the season allowed to purchase tags after October 31. Spearers no longer required to purchase a fishing license prior to purchasing their spearing license. Revenues from Winnebago sturgeon spearing license sales required to be used only on the Winnebago sturgeon management program. Upriver Lakes season moved up
one year (within 5 year rotation)
and limited to 1 day. Spearers Sturgeon spearers in a long line at Wendt’s
registration station during very successful
Upriver Lakes or a Lake opening day of 2004 season
Winnebago sturgeon spearing
license – then end of being able to fish both waters in the same year. Non-
resident sturgeon spearing license fee increased to %65.
Annual lottery fishery implemented on the Upriver Lakes. In the first year, 2795 people applied ($3.00 application fee), and 500 were drawn and received authorization to purchase a tag (485 actually purchased their tag, 15 did not). Successful sturgeon spearer registering his fish at Indian Point registration station on Lake Poygan during the first Upriver Lakes lottery season in 2007. The Upriver Lakes sturgeon lottery fishery is the only recreational fishery in Wisconsin in which effort is directly controlled by any means.


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