Sturgeon spawn in the shallow water of the Wolf River at Bamboo Bend in Shiocton in this file photo. / Gannett Wisconsin Media
GREEN BAY — This year’s unseasonably cold weather has the sturgeon population holding tight on its annual spawning run, putting sturgeon guards on ice for the time being.
Typically, peak spawning of the prehistoric fish takes place between April 15 and May 1.
“What the fish really need to begin spawning is water temperatures between 54 and 60 degrees,” said Department of Natural Resources Sturgeon Biologist Ryan Koenigs. “The later it gets in the season, the more likely they are to spawn in water a few degrees colder.”
More on sturgeon season: More headlines and video | Tweets collected during the season | Browse photos from the 2013 season | Browse photos from the 2012 season | Share your sturgeon photos | Watch cameras on the Wolf River | Watch cameras positioned in Stockbridge
The delay means those who volunteered to guard the sturgeon during their spawning activities will likely need to find new times for their watch. The sturgeon guard program began in 1977 as a way to prevent poachers from illegally taking the fish.
“The sturgeon guards are so important to preserving the population of lake sturgeon we have,” said Conservation Warden Carl Mesman, who helps coordinate the guard program. “We’ve already canceled guard shifts through April 26. This late spawning season means we could very well need guards into the first few weeks of May.”
Sturgeon guards protect a portion of shoreline in 12-hour shifts. Anyone interested in taking part can do so by calling the DNR customer service line seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. at 1-888-936-7463 or by going online at http://dnr.wi.gov and searching for “sturgeon guard”.