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The Wisconsin 2024 Sturgeon Spawning Season is completed

A Summary Of The 2024 Sturgeon Spawning Season

Wisconsin is home to one of the largest lake sturgeon populations, and their spawning season has now concluded. Here’s a recap of how the 2024 season went:   

  • Chippewa River – The lake sturgeon spawn was strong according to the number of fish sampled on the lower Chippewa River. During the week of April 22, 126 lake sturgeon were captured on the Chippewa River in Eau Claire. Based on previous data, we know the majority of lake sturgeon that spawn near Eau Claire spend most of their time in Lake Pepin on the Mississippi River, located 60 miles downstream. Sampled lake sturgeon ranged from 1 to 75 pounds, with an estimated 414 adults in the spawning stock. The Lake Wissota population of lake sturgeon spawn near Jim Falls, where 330 fish were sampledduring the week of April 29. This is a record sample size at Jim Falls, andnearly 35% of the sampled fish had been captured before. This data helps build population size and survival models. Interestingly, one lake sturgeon recaptured this spring was a 51.3-inch male tagged initially on May 10, 2004, when it was 50.3 inches. So in 20 years, it only grew 1 inch.  
  • Lower Fox River – Sturgeon spawning happened earlier than usual this year on the Fox River. The first sturgeon were observed below the De Pere Dam on April 16. The first spawning events didn’t happen until April 26-29, when approximately 30 sturgeon spawned below the dam. A second wave of sturgeon appeared on May 3 and May 4 and spawned over May 5 and May 6.
  • Peshtigo River – Sturgeon were visible below the Peshtigo Dam most days from April 12 to May 13. Three peak spawning events began on April 16, April 29 and May 11. Spawning started a week earlier than most years on the lower Peshtigo River. DNR crews used dip nets to sample 121 sturgeon, with the largest being a 76.3-inch female. Roughly 10% of the sturgeon sampled were previously tagged, while 90% were given a new tag.  
  • Wisconsin River – Staff from the DNR’s Poynette office sampled lake sturgeon in the Wisconsin River near Wisconsin Dells between April 16 and May 1.Sampling efforts targeted spawning habitats and habitats occupied primarily by juvenile sturgeon. Assisted by staff from the Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery, the Poynette crew collected a total of 211 lake sturgeon that ranged from 25 to 70 inches. Several mature males and females in spawning conditions were held in net pens and spawned by Wild Rose staff. DNR staff received assistance from federal hatchery staff from Genoa, Wisconsin and Neosho, Missouri. Young sturgeon from this spawning effort will support sturgeon management efforts in Wisconsin and other states that rely on Wisconsin as the source of lake sturgeon for their rehabilitation programs. Lake sturgeon spawning activity below the Kilbourn Dam in Wisconsin Dells peaked during the week of April 29-May 3. 
  • Wolf River – The spawn on the Winnebago System was early and quick this year. In both the Wolf and Fox rivers, lake sturgeon started spawning on April 13. The DNR was out at multiple locations sampling from April 14 to April 18. Sturgeon continued to spawn at some locations after April 18. This year, the DNR handled 1,358 lake sturgeon between these locations. Of these, 672 were new fish that had never been tagged. The largest fish handled was an 80.7-inch female tagged initially in 2005. Hatchery staff from Wild Rose and Genoa, Wisconsin, as well as Warm Springs, Georgia, collected gametes for different rehabilitation projects and research areas.  
  • Yellow River – The DNR’s Spooner Fish Team and Treaty West Team just finished sampling season on the Yellow River for lake sturgeon, capturing 102 fish ranging from 39.0 to 69.5 inches. Three fish were recaptured from the DNR’s tagging efforts in the 1980s, with the oldest return of the season being a 64.8-inch female tagged initially in 1980, estimated at 50-54 years old. 

Hopefully you got out during this year’s spawn to see some of these fantastic fish!  

(Text from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources – dir.wi.goc)