After having almost accepted that I would’nt be able to experience the famous and unique Sturgeon Spearing on Lake Winnebago hands on (because the temperatures have gotten pretty high lately and I am running out of time in Appleton) I finally made it.
I grabbed my stuff, drove out to the lake (but not onto it) and started walking out. And it was a lot easier than I thought. The very first Spearers I passed were amazing, we got into a chat and I decided to stay with them. The good thing was, that they were just about to cut their holes, which turned out to be just as interesting as the spearing itself.
The person cutting the holes was Scott, a sturgeon spearing expert with 50 years of experience on the lake:
The chainsaw used to cut this hole was by far the biggest one I have ever seen which is not surprising as Scott also told me that this is the largest chainsaw that Stihl produces. Working with such a chainsaw requires expertise, so does hole cutting. The size of the hole matters just as much as the angle and direction of the rectangle.
After the hole is cut, the chunk of ice needs to be pushed under the surface and the shack needs to be put into place. Its also required to mark the shack with wooden poles to prevent cars from driving into the hole when the shack is removed.
After this is done the shack needs to be secured from sliding, which is done by using small pieces of wood that are squeezed between the shack and the ice. Additionally the edge of the shack needs to be encircled by snow, in order to secure the shack even more and to prevent light from entering the shack and lighting it up.
Now the gear can be loaded into the shack. This includes the spear, decoy, a space heater, stools, beer, a hook to get the sturgeon out off the water after its speared and occasionally a grill.
Then the waiting begins.
Andrew, Cory and me weren’t lucky, no sturgeon passed our ways. Nevertheless, others on Lake Winnebago had a more successful day.
This sturgeon weighed in at about 62 pounds, which makes it a rather small fish compared to many others weighing more than 100 pounds.
I really enjoyed the time I spent on the lake, and the experience also helped me understand the fascination of fishing, which I considered to be a quite boring hobby before.
I want to thank my spearing buddies Andrew, Cory and Scott who invited me to experience this event with them and who explained me everything. Also, Andrew got me a hilarious sturgeon spearing sweater that will forever remind of the great time we had. Plus, the steak was freaking awesome. Thank you!
If you ever happen to be in Wisconsin in February, definitely stop by to experience this event. It is definitely unique, not only for the spearing but especially for the people you’ll meet!