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Sturgeon spearing season underway: Bitterly cold temperatures making registering fish challenging

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NEENAH (WITI) — Sturgeon spearing season is underway, and it has been very cold throughout the season.
So how have those working at the 11 registration stations been coping with the cold?

The wind chill Wednesday morning, February 18th was around -20 at registration station number 12 in Neenah.

“The weather has been challenging. It’s been very cold,” DNR Fisheries Technician Scott Bunde said.

Bunde and his crew at Payne’s Point have been outside for days, processing hundreds of sturgeon.

“It’s the wind that really eats at you and tends to freeze these fish very fast. When they bring the fish in, we have to measure them, and if they’re shaped like a boomerang, it’s hard to get a good measurement on them,” Bunde said.

Bunde says the weather is tough on the equipment too.

“It’s kind of like cutting into a four-by-four when they’re frozen solid,” Bunde said.

But there was a place to warm up. During down times, crews huddled inside the registration station.

“We kind of switch jobs between staying in the shack and going outside,” DNR Fisheries Technician Dan Nelson said.

Nelson is able to record data from inside the heated shack, but he still bundles up.

“Gloves, long underwear, Under Armour, whatever you got. Thick coats, hats, gloves,” Nelson said.

It has been windy since opening day.

“Visibility, drifting, the snow, and the way the roads were plowed kind of made an ideal place for the snow to drift in, which caused more people to get stuck,” Bunde said.

“The wind was gusting pretty good. I thought I was going to lose some panels for a while, but we managed,” Brad Beattie of Menasha said.

Beattie managed to get his first stugeon Wednesday.

So did Casey Kostechka.

“First one I’ve ever gotten in seven years. Saw one earlier this morning, didn’t throw. This one came through, so threw at this one and got lucky,” Kostechka of Winchester said.

Bunde and his crew processed fish for six hours Wednesday. Depending on the season harvest, they expect to be back again on Thursday. Workers say they know working in the cold comes with the territory. They say they will be relieved when the season is over.

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