Sturgeon-spearing season ends with record catch

February 13, 2008 4:24:08 AM PST

Ed Blatz bagged a 172-pounder that that measured 78 inches in length, the third-largest sturgeon taken from the lake since record keeping began in the 1950s. The only larger ones were a 180-pounder caught in 1953 and a 188-pounder caught in 2004.

Spearers place shanties on the lake, cut holes through the ice and wait until a sturgeon swims beneath them, within range of the spear.

Wisconsin shuts down the season after a certain number of fish are taken. This year, spearers had bagged 528 adult female sturgeon through Monday, or about 90 percent of the harvest cap of 556, so the season closed at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Blatz, of Fond du Lac, caught his fish Tuesday, one of 43 sturgeon speared this year that weighed 100 pounds or more.

The lake sturgeon is a throwback to the age of dinosaurs 100 million years ago. The fish can live to be 100 years old.

They have bony plates instead of scales, among other unique characteristics. Females do not become sexually mature and start producing eggs until they are 20 to 25 years old.