VAN DYNE – A slow start for sturgeon spearing season in Wisconsin in 2024 is affecting one of its most iconic hangouts. Wyatt Ziemer of Wendt’s on the Lake in Van Dyne joined Wisconsin’s Afternoon News to break down opening weekend.
“It’s been tough on the bar,” Ziemer said. “We depend on a lot of the ice fishing business to keep us going.”
Ziemer said Wendt’s has not cut anyone’s hours or laid anyone off, and that the bar is still running full steam ahead for the remainder of the sturgeon spearing season. But he acknowledged it’s been slow going so far.
Aerial surveys conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources showed around 450 shanties on Lake Winnebago during opening weekend, down from more than 3,000 in 2023.
Ziemer assured WTMJ the diehard spearers are still out there.
“Making the best of what we can,” he said. “There’s a lot of us that no matter what happens, we’re going to try to get out there on whatever ice we can.”
That ice was giving fishers like Ziemer trouble over the weekend. He said that cracks in the ice were constantly forming and freezing over in different places – with that inconsistency making it tough to move around on the lake.
“I have never felt more on edge than Saturday morning going out in the dark,” Ziemer said.
It hasn’t been a complete wash, though. Ziemer said a father and son bagged 60-pounder and a massive 113-pounder back-to-back over the weekend, and he had some luck himself and took home a 25-pound, 53-inch fish on Monday.
The 2024 sturgeon spearing season runs for either 16 days or until the pre-determined harvest caps are met.