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Sturgeon Spectacular kicks off spearing season

2023 Sturgeon Spectacular kickoff in Fond du Lac
Posted at 8:58 PM, Feb 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-10 22:21:28-05

FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — Sturgeon spearing season begins Saturday morning and in Fond du Lac, the city is ringing in the season with its Sturgeon Spectacular festival.

Sturgeon spearing is a tradition in the area, said Pete Wilke, executive director of Fond du Lac Festivals.

“That community has been in Fond du Lac for decades, and been doing this for, I think, over a century out on Lake Winnebago,” Wilke said. “And we want to keep that tradition alive.”

Kory Roloff said this is a way for his family to connect for the weekend.

“It's kind of like another holiday, another Christmas, I guess, another birthday,” Roloff said. “Those that live a little further away, we can get them in.”

Roloff said he’s been sturgeon spearing for 15 years, and is passing the tradition on to his son Josh.

“He's pretty serious into it now,” Roloff siad. “So, that's what's kind of cool to pass it on, to get friends and family doing it.”

Josh Roloff said he remembers growing up watching his father go sturgeon spearing, and is excited to continue the tradition.

“I just turned 20 years old. . . I’m starting to get more independent now and following my dad's footsteps.”

Josh Roloff said he’s hoping to spear his first sturgeon this year.

“My classmates definitely do not understand it,” Roloff said. “But you start showing them videos of spearing a fish and they like that, but they didn't understand you sat 40 hours a spear that fish.”

Meanwhile, in downtown Fond du Lac, festivities kicked off with the “lighting of the sturgeon” Friday night.

The city is celebrating the season’s kickoff this weekend with curling matches on Lake Winnebago, live music, plenty of food and drink, and games for kids.

But organizers say one of the most popular attractions is the live snow sculpting competition.

Mike Lechtenberg is part of the sculpting group Sculptora Borealis and said he’s been snow sculpting for 6 years and ice sculpting for 17 years.

“It's a unique sport,” Lechtenberg said. “We're intensely competitive and doing really nice pieces. At the same time, we're very friendly with all the other sculptors. We're willing to share tools and share knowledge.”

The Sturgeon Spectacular will continue with events through Sunday.