Sturgeon spearers cautioned on Lake Winnebago ice conditions - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Sturgeon spearers cautioned on variable Lake Winnebago system ice conditions

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OSHKOSH (Press Release) - People preparing for the opening of the 2013 sturgeon spearing season on the Lake Winnebago system are being cautioned that ice conditions are highly variable, ranging from more than a foot of ice down to open water still remaining in some areas.

"Ice conditions are variable, not only among the upriver lakes but on Lake Winnebago itself," said Ryan Koenig, sturgeon biologists with the Department of Natural Resources.

The east side of Lake Winnebago has greater ice thickness than the west side after heavy winds a few weeks ago shoved the ice up onto the east shore, leaving open water behind on the west side.

Since then, big swings in wind and temperatures have continued to keep ice conditions widely varied. There are cracks in the ice on Lake Winnebago and spearers are reminded that no ice is safe. The Department of Natural Resources does not monitor the thickness or condition of ice. Should anyone choose to venture out on it, we highly suggest contacting one of the local fishing clubs for the latest on ice conditions.

DNR fisheries staff checked the water clarity Monday morning on Lake Winnebago and found they could see down roughly 8 feet in most areas.

Anyone who plans to head out onto the ice should remember these simple tips:

• Ice should be at least 4 inches thick before walking out onto it, 5 inches if taking a snowmobile, ATV or other vehicle.

• Wear proper clothing and equipment – dress in layers including wool hats, mittens and waterproof boots. Include a float coat to help you stay afloat and slow body heat loss should you go into the water.

• Don't go out alone – Go out fishing or spearing with friends, take a cell phone with you, and make sure someone knows where you are and when you expect to return.

The 2013 sturgeon spearing season opens Saturday, Feb. 9 at 6:30 a.m. and runs for 16 days, or until harvest caps are reached. More information about the upcoming season, including regulations and harvest caps, can be found here

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