The Wisconsin DNR reports selling 12,182 licenses for Lake Winnebago for the 2012 season, and 498 of the possible 500 licenses for the upriver lakes. This brings the total number of spearers to 12,680, a 2.1% increase from 2011. Since 2007, license sales have gone up nearly 50%, a sure sign that the popularity of the sport is growing statewide.
There are several reasons that Sturgeon Spearing is growing as a sport. The Wisconsin DNR changed the rules of the game a few years back, by only allowing spearers to fish from 6:30-12:30 rather than from sun up to sun down.
Another potential reason the sport is growing could have to do with the size of the Sturgeon currently in the system. The last 3 seasons have produced some of the largest Sturgeon in spearing history! Also, the DNR now allows 500 spearers to spear on the upriver lakes per year, rather than allowing anyone to spear on the upriver lakes every few years.
Media coverage of the sport has also spiked interest, as well as talk on the internet. Many anglers use fishing websites like Lake-Link to discuss where they are seeing the Sturgeon prior to the season or where they are finding the best water clarity.
Since Sturgeon Spearing for the first time in 2009, I can honestly say that it is quite a rush when that Sturgeon finally swims into your hole and you get to throw your spear!