An Outdoorsman’s Journal
By: Mark Walters
Sturgeon with a Spear 2020!
Hello friends: Before I go any further with this week’s column I think that I should explain something. Recently a wise friend said to me, “Mark I like your column, but you should be more descriptive.” Folks, the space that I take is the max amount that most of the 60 papers that run this column can allow.
Every week when I write my column my dilemma is the description or the experience, or the other way around. I choose the experience.
Anyways, sturgeon spearing, camping on the ice by myself, cloudy water, thin ice. Lake Winnebago. That’s my description.
Friday, Feb. 7 High 28, low 19 If there is one sport that I blunder into it is sturgeon spearing on Winnebago. I always camp on the ice, spear from inside my tent, generally cannot see too deep into my 6x3-foot hole due to cloudy water, and this year until I started driving my truck I did not know where I was going to end up.
Due to very talked about poor ice conditions, I had an enclosed trailer with my ATV in it and that was how I planned on getting onto the ice and to the land/ice of 100-pound plus sturgeon.
So I get to Oshkosh, I am driving south on a road in town that eventually takes you to Fond du Lac, and I see the lake and there are some shacks, ATVs and a couple of trucks on the ice. I pull into a public boat landing by The Oshkosh Boat/Yacht Club, talk to some guys, and make the decision that I can drive the whole rig a short ways onto the ice (maybe 600 yards). I succeed, I get my Stihl MS261 out of the cab, put on my chest waders and trapping gloves, and cut me a hole. I was about done and two new buddies pull up. One was Ryan Epprecht, the other was, ‘Oops, I forgot to write his name down.” Anyway they helped me push the ice block out of the way and then I built camp, which was my 13x8 foot Eskimo, Fatshack placed over the hole. A little later as I was attempting to get my ATV out of the trailer, I made the mistake of unhooking the trailer from the truck. While backing the ATV out of the trailer, the trailer went straight up in the air and I became very stuck between my door frame and the ATV. Not a pretty sight. I should have broke my neck, and had to climb over the steering column and out the front door, then back the truck up to the trailer hitch and use my entire 160 pounds to get the trailer hitch to come from straight up in the air and land on the ball of the truck’s trailer hitch. No injuries, no witnesses — my kind of screw-up.
Saturday, Feb. 8 High 23, low 16 My neighbor got a 60-pound sturgeon early today and after spearing was over at 1:00 I visited with him and his very fun group of family and friends for several hours. Really cool people. About 4:00 this afternoon my buddy from Baraboo, Jon Hilmer, showed up. I had told Jon that if he made it to camp he had better bring a cot and proper bedding.
I met Jon at a sturgeon party back in 2006, we became good friends, and in 2007 camped on the ice and I shared my vision for KAMO with him. Jon is a die-hard co-founder of the Baraboo River Chapter of KAMO and came up with our motto of “Tradition Forward.”
Sometimes Jon has a mind of his own and today showed up at camp with just a rustic blanket. At bedtime I put a plastic Otter Sled on the floor of the shack and thought this guy must be one tough hombre.
Jon froze his behind off and because the sled was much shorter than his body, and had some fairly steady cramping issues. He would had to have been in a lot worse shape for me to let him crawl in my sleeping bag.
The next morning there was a 7-inch snowstorm, Jon and I came up with a plan for a super sturgeon decoy, and believe it or not, we did not harvest a sturgeon.
P.S. You know you may be a redneck when on Feb. 13 you take your Christmas tree down with a skill saw.
Mark Walters cutting in his spearing hole!
After Mark Walters cut a hole for sturgeon spearing he put his shack over the top of it.
Ryan Epprecht of Oshkosh was successful on day one of Wisconsin’s sturgeon spearing season.