Sturgeon spearing license deadline fast approaching
Written by Oshkosh Northwestern   
Tuesday, 25 October 2005 04:33
A surge is expected this week from outdoor enthusiasts to make the Oct. 31 deadline for purchase of a 2006 sturgeon spearing license. As of 2 p.m. Friday, a total of 5,332 spearing licenses from Wisconsin residents were purchased for next season and 75 licenses from out-of-state. That?s about 5,000 fewer than the 10,682 licenses sold for the 2005 spearing season, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Officials from the DNR aren?t fretting. They expect the final sturgeon spearing license count will be about the same as this past season.

?They have until the end of the month and I expect a flood of last minute license purchases,? said Ron Bruch, sturgeon biologist for the DNR in Oshkosh. ?We sold 6,000 licenses in the last two weeks last year before the deadline.?

The 2006 season gets underway on Saturday, Feb. 11. Spearers must be at least age 14.

Marlene Gehrke, co-owner of Gehrke?s Marine & Gun Supply on North Main Street in Oshkosh, said she believes the sturgeon license business will pick up this week.

?We haven?t sold too many sturgeon licenses, at least not yet,? Gehrke said. ?The guys usually wait until the last minute.?

License sales from the 2004 spearing season brought in more than $200,000 with all monies earmarked only for the Winnebago System sturgeon management program. It?s funded a number of sturgeon programs, including population assessments and migration patterns.

Bruch said a new program spearing license fees will fund is a sturgeon history project. It?s a book Bruch is helping to author to capture the sturgeon spearing history on Lake Winnebago and the upriver lakes of Winneconne, Butte des Morts and Poygan.

?We?re trying to capture as much as we can on sturgeon spearing, including histories of families in the sport that go back several generations,? Bruch said. ?We?ll also collect photos that we can put into a very nice book.?

In addition, the book, which is expected to be on sale sometime in 2007, will include chapters on sturgeon management, decoys, sturgeon recipes and stories from spearers.

Bruch said he got the idea for the book after talking about sturgeon spearing with a man, whose grandfather used to spear with the American Indians, who lived in Stockbridge.

?We really need to preserve the history of spearing,? Bruch said.
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