Twelve year-olds will be able to take part in next winter's sturgeon spearing season on Lake Winnebago and up-river lakes. A citizens' council approved the change.
The deadline to buy a $20 spearing permit is October 31. As the DNR says, 2013 will be the first year "in modern history" that 12 year olds can buy a permit. The previous cut off has been 14 years old.
Ryan Koenigs is a fisheries biologist with the DNR, "It's just another way to encourage youth to actively partake in the sport."
Koenigs has been tagging the large fish this summer. He says there are record-sized sturgeon in the fisheries, many of which will outweigh their young spearers-and others, "Oh God yeah. The fish weigh more than most adults who'd be spearing them. We handled a fish this year below the Shawano dam 87.5 inches long. We estimate about that time, or before she started spawning, that she was probably in the neighborhood of 240 pounds. The current record in the state of Wisconsin is 212 pounds."
Eleven-year-olds can't apply for a spearing permit by the end of the month, unless they turn twelve before the season starts in February. Permits are readily available for Lake Winnebago, 500 permits will be awarded in a lottery drawing for the upriver lakes.