The deadline to purchase licenses for the 2020 Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing season is Thursday, Oct. 31, with state biologists forecasting great opportunities to land the fish of a lifetime.

“The lake sturgeon population in the Winnebago System is robust in terms of abundance and size. The adult population contains more fish than we have had in decades and includes a strong representation of 100-plus-pound fish,” said Ryan Koenigs, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Winnebago System sturgeon biologist. 

“As always, the biggest driver of spearing success will be water clarity and we will not have an idea what clarity will be like until the weeks leading up to the 2020 season,” said Koenigs.

The spearing season will open Feb. 8, 2020, with separate, but simultaneous seasons for Lake Winnebago and the Upriver lakes of Butte des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan. Participation in the Upriver Lakes season is deterĀ­-

mined by a drawing that operates off a preference point system. The seasons run for a maximum of 16 days or until preset harvest caps are reached.

License costs are $20 for residents and $65 for nonresidents, and can be purchased at gowild.wi.gov or in person at a license sales location.

The minimum spearing age is 12 years old. Youths who turn 12 between Friday, Nov. 1 and the last day of the 2020 spearing season can purchase a spearing license after Oct. 31. Military personnel home on leave also can purchase a license after the Oct. 31 deadline.

There are unlimited license sales for the Lake Winnebago spear fishery, while the Upriver Lakes fishery is managed by a preference point system and limited to 500 permitted spearers per season. Once a person is authorized to purchase an Upriver Lakes license, they are not able to purchase a license for Lake Winnebago.

For more information on harvest trends and management of the Lake Winnebago sturgeon fishery, visit dnr.wi.gov.