Every Spring, between late April and early May, sturgeon swim along the Wolf River shoreline, looking for a place to spawn. The fish are huge, old, and kinda ugly — people often call them dinosaur fish!
You can only see the sturgeon at their spawning habitat in Spring for a couple of days when the water temperature reaches 50-60 degrees here in Northeast Wisconsin. We’re lucky to be living near the only place in North America with viewable spawning sites! Heading out in the spring to see the sturgeon in action has become a loved family tradition, and we encourage everyone to try to catch a glimpse.
Sturgeon Spawning Viewing Public Sites
- Wolf River Sturgeon Trail, New London
Wolf River, Cty Highway X, west of New London
- Shawano Dam
1263 S Main St, Shawano
- Bamboo Bend, Shiocton
County Highway 54
- Riverwalk, De Pere (De Pere dam) – A little harder to spot but sturgeon can also be viewed from the pier and platforms throughout the Riverwalk in De Pere when spawning near the De Pere dam. Look for their distinctive long dark bodies and pointed tails!
Watch the live feed from the locations on the Wolf River Cam.
Also, check out the Wisconsin DNR’s website for maps and updates.
GVK TIP: Pack a picnic or stop by Charlie’s Drive-In on Main Street in Hortonville for a snack or ice cream.
Fun Facts About Sturgeon
- They are old — like really old! The lake sturgeon is the oldest and largest native fish species in North America’s Great Lakes. While males may live some 55 years, females can reach more than 150.
- They can get huge! It’s not unusual to find one six feet long and 200 pounds. In 2012, a female sturgeon caught on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin measured more than seven feet three inches long and weighed 240 pounds.
- Sturgeon are bottom feeders. They swim along the lake or river bottom searching for food like insects, worms, snails, crayfish, small fish, insect larvae, fish eggs, and other organisms.
- Where are they found? Sturgeon live in the Fox River as well as Wisconsin’s major river systems including the Wisconsin, Mississippi, Chippewa, Flambeau, Manitowish, and Menominee Rivers. Lake Winnebago holds the largest single concentration of sturgeon in the world. They can also be found in the Wisconsin River’s northern tip, the Mississippi, lower Wisconsin, Chippewa, Flambeau, Manitowish, and Menominee Rivers. It has been reported that the Wolf River may be the only place in North America to see the sturgeon spawn.
Learn More About Wisconsin Sturgeon
Explore these great resources from the Sea Grant of the University of Wisconsin
- Activity Sheet with field notes, questions and vocabulary after watching a video about Dissecting a Lake Surgeon.
- Read the Sturgeon Story Map – People of the Sturgeon Wisconsin’s Love Affair with an Ancient Fish By Kathleen Schmitt Kline, Ronald M. Bruch, Frederick P. Binkowski, with photographs by Bob Rashid. Published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press in 2009.
- Listen to sturgeon
- Learn more about the sturgeon and conservation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
- Take a virtual field trip with the Virtual Museum Exhibit at the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts – In collaboration with the Wisconsin Water Library and other partners, the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts hosted an exhibit dedicated to the lake sturgeon. Inspired by the book People of the Sturgeon: Wisconsin’s Love Affair with an Ancient Fish, the exhibit contained local and international memorabilia, spearfishing equipment, fine art prints, and more.
- National Geographic
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Eek! Environmental Education for Kids in Wisconsin – Sturgeon Feature