Posted 2/23/22

AN OUTDOORSMAN’S Journal BY MARK WALTERS PROUDLY SPONSORED BY STANLEY TIRE Sturgeon with a Spear Hello friends, There are some things that I am good at and many that I am not. Spearing a sturgeon …

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Sturgeon with a Spear

Hello friends,

There are some things that I am good at and many that I am not. Spearing a sturgeon on Lake Winnebago is one of the things that I try hard at but except for one time about 15 years ago I always come home empty handed. I try hard, I really enjoy myself and it does not bother me a bit that I really suck at embedding my spear into an 80-pound dinosaur from the deep.

Friday, February 11th High 41, low 9

So here is my plan. This year I am alone, I am driving to Oshkosh, getting on the ice by South Side Ice/Yacht Club and will immerse myself for 48-hours in a city of spearing shacks.

There is a sleet, snow falling, it is 2:00 pm the wind is supposed to pick up to a sustained 20-mph by 4:00, I have a lot of work to do and of course I have my most loyal friend "Ruby" along.

First job and this was physical and scary. I am going to cut a hole in the ice the size of a coffin with my Jiffy ice auger and my chainsaw which has a 20-inch bar. My plan was to first mark the entire outside edge of the hole with the auger, then go down to about 16-inches with it staying in dry ice. In my perfect world I would cut the final 4-inches with my Jonsered 2165.

Brief description – extremely physical while wearing chest waders with an error of cutting too deep with the auger so my hole flooded which meant the saw end of this job was in the water. In the end I was soaked with sweat and had a block the size of a bathtub to push under the ice.

I decided to cut it in half with the auger and because I had to lean over so much, I had two experiences where I literally got sucked into Winnebago by the ten inch auger, both times I about filled my waders with something besides water as I got out of my predicament.

I was proud as hell when the job was done, and I opened a can of beer as the wind hit gale force. I decided to turn my radio on while I built camp. Crapola, my batteries were dead. I use my Eskimo Fatshack for spearing and living in. The Fatshack is 13×8 feet pops up like a turkey blind, can really catch the wind and of course you do not want to fall in the hole which you are setting it over.

I get the Fatshack up, spill my beer, the wind is my music and I decide to start running my four gas lines. One for my heater a brand new Mr Buddy, my third one in 13-months. Another for my cookstove and two for my propane lights.

More bad luck as I realize I forgot all but one of my gas lines, choices had to be made, my punishment, make due with what I had.

Next, I had to put a 32×28 foot tarp on my shack so it would be dark inside. I used my truck as a wind block, but this was a gamble as it was very close to the coffin sized hole in the ice. I got the tarp on the shack and used the slush from my hole to hold it down.

I set up my kitchen, cot, enjoyed a PBR and cooked an excellent supper. The wind was so powerful that sleep was not my friend as it seemed I would be blown east to the Atlantic ocean in my Fatshack.

Saturday, February 12th High 12, low minus 6

Spearing hours are from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm. I actually enjoy this even though over about 15-years I have only seen one sturgeon and it is dead. No one around me got one this morning and the group I speared with the last two years The Bornemann's who spear near Stockbridge had the same luck. I should have been near them because they are fun, but I figured I had better mix up this story, so I went to Oshkosh.

Sunday, February 13th High 7, low minus 10

Once again today I was not presented with a shot and at 1:00 it was time to take down the shack and pack The Chevy Hotel. I had just started my task when I got a text from Hailey Bornemann and a great photo. Alicia Duffrin, who is from Fifield, was sitting with her hus band Leon and she had thrown her spear into what would be a 71-pound sturgeon with just 15 minutes left in the spearing day.

Congrats Alicia and Leon, next year I will be back!