Now that the 2023 sturgeon spawn has concluded, here’s a recap:
Peshtigo River: Cold water temperatures led to a longer pre-spawn than normal. Spawning started on May 6 and ended May 19. High water levels made it difficult to determine just how many sturgeon were present below the Peshtigo Dam this spring.
Lower Fox River: Spawning on the Lower Fox River began on May 8, continuing through May 12. Sturgeon were seen staging earlier this year, and at its peak, hundreds of sturgeon were visible below the De Pere Dam at one time.
Wolf River: The sturgeon spawn on the Wolf River during this spring was very distinct. Warm weather in mid-April caused water temperatures to rise to 60 degrees (Fahrenheit). During this time, the Wolf River was also in flood stage from significant run off from snow melt and rain. This caused a portion of lake sturgeon to spawn throughout the system from about April 14 through April 21. The fish that did spawn were utilizing habitat deeper in the water due to the higher water levels. During this time, the DNR was able to handle 230 Lake Sturgeon throughout the system.
Cold weather and even a snowstorm in late April caused water temperatures to drop below 50 degrees and spawning halted. As Wisconsin weather finally returned to normal with a slow warm-up for the rest of April and into May, large numbers of Lake Sturgeon spawned started to spawn. This group of fish seemed to spawn in large numbers and for a short period of time. During this time, fish spawned in one day at the Sturgeon Trail in New London and Bamboo Bend in Shiocton. The spawn at the Shawano dam only lasted about 4 days. During this second spawn, almost 600 fish were handled.
Of the 115 females handled (78 newly tagged fish), the average female measured 66.3 inches, with the biggest female being 79.3 inches. The DNR handled 715 males (327 newly tagged fish), averaging 58.0 inches, and the largest male was 75.4 inches. While the warm weather and high water made this an interesting spring, DNR staff were able to get the information they need.
We hope all those interested in sturgeon got out during this year’s spawn to see some of these fantastic fish.
Find more information on the Winnebago system sturgeon spawning page.