Ice fisherman spears 177-pound sturgeon, joins Heavy Hitters Club
Fishermen outside Wisconsin might not grasp the concept, but Wisconsinites certainly are familiar with sturgeon spearing, so they can appreciate the “once-in-a-lifetime” fish landed by James Gishkowsky on Valentine’s Day.
Gishkowsky speared a 177.3-pound female sturgeon through a hole in the ice on Lake Winnebago, giving him entrance into the Heavy Hitters Club reserved for those who spear a sturgeon over 170 pounds on the Lake Winnebago system.
It was the seventh-largest sturgeon speared since 1941, and the largest since 2013 when a 179-pounder was landed. The record is 212.2 pounds and 84.2 inches long, speared in 2010.
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Gishkowsky’s sturgeon measured 79.9 inches or nearly 6-foot-8, just 4 inches shorter than Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, according to the Fond du Lac Reporter, which also stated that the fish is “`taller’ than 10 of the Bucks’ 15 player’s listed heights.”
“It was a big adrenaline rush,” Gishkowsky told the Reporter.
Gishkowsky told WTAQ that he had to call in reinforcements to help him hoist the fish out of the hole, adding that “it’s a-once-in-a-lifetime [experience].”
Gishkowsky plans to have the fish mounted, and said it will hang in TJ’s Harbor Restaurant in Van Dyne.
For those unfamiliar with sturgeon spearing, it is “a sport rich in tradition” in the Winnebago system, as stated on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website.
The season is from the second Saturday in February and lasts for 16 days or until any of the sex-specific harvest caps for that fishery are reached. Spearers can fish from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day and must register their fish by 2 p.m. on the same day.
Spearers typically fish from a darkened shack on the ice, giving them better visibility. They use various types of decoys as attractants, and use a spear with a long handle up to 8-feet in length, with a detachable spearhead. It kind of looks like a flattened pitchfork.
Gishkowsky told WTAQ he’s only ever seen three sturgeon before spearing the 177-pounder. His previous biggest sturgeon speared weighed 96 pounds.
Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.