NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) - It's an outdoor tradition this time of year. Sturgeon spearers will hit the ice this Saturday for the start of the 2013 season. They can start to venture out Thursday to cut holes and put up shanties.
Big fish mean big business at Payne's Point Bar and Grill in Neenah. Owner Mike Comins said sturgeon spearing season is his busiest time of year.
"On a daily basis, it probably doubles or triples business," Comins said. "And there's some people you only see that time of the year."
Come Saturday, thousands of sturgeon spearers will join be out on Lake Winnebago and the up river lakes near Oshkosh.
According to the DNR, more than 12,000 tags have been sold, that's slightly less than last season.
"The harvest caps are identical to what they were in the 2012 fishery," explained Ryan Koenigs, a Winnebago Sturgeon Biologist. "which is 400 juvenile females, 828 adult females and 1,200 males. That's the system wide cap."
Koenigs said current conditions vary. High winds and changing snow cover mean ice thickness and water clarity aren't exactly the best.
"If we get some good snow cover, which we have now, and we're supposed to get some more snow," said Koenigs. "Water clarity could increase because the snow will block light penetration going through the ice and it will allow the water to clear up."
Koenigs said there is plenty of time for conditions to improve. The season could go as long as 16 days.
It's a rush the restaurant owner is ready for.
"It's just a little bit more work," added Comins. "But there is only possibly two and a half weeks of the season. So you make hay when the sun shines."