A pan fisherman at heart, I love the fight of big bass, beautiful walleye, and redfish. I have never focused on many other species until the past couple of years. Often asked about my bucket list, I receive surprised looks when I’d shrug my shoulders and say I didn’t really have one. Finally after listening to the fish tales of my friends and coworkers, I started putting together my own list and I have to admit, it does make the sport a little more exciting and trip planning a little more fun. I now strategize on which types of fish I can catch and which types of bait and gear I should use to lure them in.

In 2012, I knocked several species off of my bucket list. It was a year of a 20lb king salmon, an 8lb brown trout, my first yellow perch, 6lb northern pike, sheephead, black drum, and even a sculpin, which is a pretty tiny fish. Even after I caught the “bucket list bug,” I remained an open water angler and didn’t step foot on a frozen lake until late December–after which I’ve now made a separate ice fishing bucket list.

With another exciting year planned, I’m kicking off 2013 in pursuit of the mother of all fish, and the number one prize on my hard water list. My primary target: sturgeon. During the second week of February, I’ll be attending the Woman on Winnebago media event and the Sturgeon Stampede Festival on Lake Winnebago in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin. I’ve been waiting for this for quite some time. The state of Wisconsin has a very limited number of sturgeon permits that they offer each year. I am the lucky owner of one of those permits, having applied for mine in October. The closest I’ve come to a Sturgeon is the aquarium at Cabelas in Rogers, Minnesota. Hopefully that will change in February.

SturgeonThe notion of ice fishing is very intriguing. I’m a southern angler and until recently, my only knowledge of ice fishing was watching Grumpy Old Men. I have to admit, I’m still a little anxious when I’m standing on a lake, lying over a hole, site fishing, or sitting in a Frabill ice house with a heater near my feet. We just don’t have ice like that in Arkansas and my instincts tell me to stay on shore.

The Women on Winnebago event is more than an ice fishing trip, it’s the opportunity to experience a culture and a way of life that is foreign to me. I’ll be attending the annual Sturgeon Stampede festival. The festival offers an ice kiting event, windsurfers, skating, broomball, ice bowling, ice sailing and sturg-o-rama. For more information about the festival, visit the Sturgeon Stampede website.

The Fond Du Lac Tourism Bureau has built a website featuring the Women on Winnebago event. To read blogs and stories from participants of the event, visit the site at http://wow.wwocz.net/.

Images courtesy Dena Woerner

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24 thoughts on “Southerner Stalks Sturgeon

  1. I even had the pleasure of kissing a sturgeon! The Sturgeon Stampede is an awesome event and there are many, many interesting stories to hear!

  2. The Sturgeon spearing history here in Wisconsin is something that we can not discribe! You will see things on the ice you have never dreamped of seeing and if and when you see that 5 foot shadow come lurking into your high lighted hole with nothing but darkness surrounding you, at first you will admire the majistic sight and than remember why you are there….OH YA… GRAB THE SPEAR!!
    See you soon Dena! You will love it!!

    1. Thanks Pat! I can’t wait, although someone will have to yell, “Grab the Spear!” because I’ll be looking for my fishing rod.

  3. Dena, you are in for an unforgettable experience. Hopefully you can drag your 100 pound plus prize through the local taverns!

    1. Mark, if I drag a 100lb fish through the ice and don’t fall in doing so, it will be a small miracle! I should have said just seeing a sturgeon through the ice was on my bucket list!

  4. Dena, this will be a first time event for Sturgeon for me as well. It will be great attending this event with you.

  5. I wish I was able to attend the spearing feast with you ladies! Darn my busy show schedule. You will have a blast in Fond DU Lac!

  6. Hi Dena! I am originally from New York state, and I remember the first Spring I lived here in Alaska, running the snow-machines out and across the river, the feelings of “OMG, I shouldn’t be here.

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