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It’s a love of the sturgeon and great family tradition that my father passed on to us.
Persistence Pays Off
Dan Groeschel of Fond du Lac speared his first sturgeon at age nine, and he had his own shanty by the time he was fourteen. He remembers that when he was very young, his father used to tie a rope around him so that he could be pulled out easily if he fell into the hole.
Today, Groeschel’s five daughters are all spearers, and his grandchildren are learning the sport as well. He recently gave his grandson a new decoy to use, and sitting in the shanty with Groeschel’s daughter, the boy kept bugging his mother to use it. “Grandpa said this would be a good decoy to use,” he told her. Finally, she gave in and lowered the decoy into the water. Five minutes later, she speared a hundred-pound sturgeon. That’s when Groeschel’s grandson became hooked on sturgeon spearing.
“It’s a love of the sturgeon and great family tradition that my father passed on to us,” Groeschel said.
Lucky To Be Alive
February 23, 2011 Fond du Lac Reporter:
Never before on Lake Winnebago had Dan Groeschel been so close to his demise. A sentinel of the lake, Dan has decades of experience spearing and traveling on the ice in almost every type of weather condition.
It was he who led the way on ice roads and he who helped rescue other stranded fishermen. Dan went through the ice early Saturday morning on Lake Winnebago. The vehicle has since been retrieved from the bottom of the lake. His hand is on a tow rope (in photo) similar to the one that saved him from going down with the Suburban.
Lesson to be learned, that no matter how seasoned of an ice fisherman you are, you never know when the ice conditions will change. Always be safe while venturing out on the ice in the winter. Ask locals for information if you are unsure.
Big fish dominate sturgeon spearing Tuesday; Groeschel grabs 123-pounder
Feb. 21, 2012 Fond du Lac Reporter
Only 10 sturgeon were speared Tuesday on Lake Winnebago, but big fish dominated the day. Robert Singler of Shiocton registered a 137-pound, 76.4-inch female at Payne’s Point tavern. Dan Groeschel, of Fond du Lac and a founder of Sturgeon for Tomorrow, registered a 123-pound, 77-inch female at Calumet Harbor. Groeschel also is a member of the Winnebago Citizens Sturgeon Advisory Committee and has played a key role in developing and shaping the Winnebago sturgeon population and management program.
Groeschel has been spearing since he was 8 years old and has gone out for 60 seasons before joining the “100-pounder” club, said Ron Bruch of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Beginning of Sturgeons For Tomorrow
It’s that affinity for a fish and strong family tradition that led Groeschel to approach Bill Casper when he first described his idea of forming Sturgeon For Tomorrow in 1977. As one of the group’s five original directors, Groeschel can look back at the past thirty – odd years with satisfaction – for protecting an important natural resource and for working to break down barriers between the people using the resource and those charged with managing it.
“It’s been a great experience,” he said. “I think that over the years we’ve set some new standards for working with the DNR.”
Groeschel remembered that early meetings with Sturgeon For Tomorrow and state managers were tense, and there was distrust on both sides at the table. He’s glad that everyone decided to stay open-minded and that ultimately they were able to find common ground.
“Good thing we were persistent as we were,” he said. “Once we got it going and got the whole program going, I think we broke a lot of barriers, and other clubs, you know have been working with the DNR.”