130-year-old giant sturgeon speared on Lake Winnebago

Jonathan Eiden speared the largest sturgeon Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 measuring 85.5 inch and 171 pounds sturgeon (Photo courtesy Department of Natural Resources)

LAKE WINNEBAGO, Wis. (WLUK) — Day three of the 2019 sturgeon spearing season is in the books.

Spearers were able to take 42 fish Monday.

On Lake Winnebago, there were 23 total fish speared. Twelve of those were adult females, and 11 were males.

The Upriver Lakes totaled 19. Two juvenile females, and six adult females, and 11 males were speared.

Spearers have totaled 377 sturgeon this season so far. Of those, 19 have been more than 100 pounds.

One sturgeon harvested on opening day still has many spearers talking. The member of the prehistoric species was close to the state record, and spearers say its reputation around the sport was legendary.

Just like he has done for the last 15 years, Jon Eiden and his father, John Eiden, were in a shack on Lake Winnebago, watching and waiting. A sturgeon came across the hole, and Jon threw the spear.

"It got right up near the surface, and the tail was out one side of the hole and the head was out the other. And that's when we knew it was big," said Jon Eiden, Appleton.

The Eidens tried to get the fish out of the shack.

"Yes, traditional fashion, chairs go flying out, the heater goes out, and the fish comes flying out," said Eiden.

The sturgeon was huge.

"(Six-foot-one), yeah, with my hat and my boots, closer to 6-4, 6-5, and it has me on both ends," said Eiden.

To be exact, it measured 85.5 inches. Eiden took the fish to the registration station at Wendt's on the Lake in Van Dyne.

At 171 pounds, the sturgeon in a league of its own.

"It's kind of an infamous fish," said Ryan Koenigs, sturgeon biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

It turns out the DNR netted the very same fish below the Shawano Dam during spawning survey assessments in 2004, and again in 2012. At that time, the fish measured about 87.5 inches and weighed approximately 240 pounds.

"It was almost a little bit sad. Because that fish, we've been talking about her a lot. The reason I think it was sad, is a lot of spearers look forward to know that fish was out there. And it had a chance to break the state record," said Koenigs.

Koenigs says there are more big sturgeon out there.

"I don't think that fish is alone," he said.

Jon Eiden says harvesting the sturgeon is bittersweet.

"Whenever you take a trophy like that, whether it's a whitetail, or a sturgeon. But it's part of the conservation, and happy to be a part of it," he said.

The fish is estimated to be around 130 years old. It's the 12th heaviest on record in the state of Wisconsin.

The state record for lake sturgeon is 84.2 inches, and 212.2 pounds, harvested in 2010.

Did you spear a sturgeon this year? Share a photo or video here.

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