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The Art of Sturgeon Coaxing

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The Art of Sturgeon Coaxing

Any number of “things” might coax a sturgeon under a shanty on Lake Winnebago, so the experts claim. Now that my tag is in my hands for the Wisconsin spearing season in February, it is time to prepare—and that means I need a good decoy. At the very least, the right decoy may keep the hallucinations that result from hours of staring down a dark-house hole at bay. Why not look at a work of art?

One good option would be a hand-carved, basswood sturgeon decoy by George Schmidt of Appleton, Wisconsin. He has been carving decoys (duck decoys, sturgeon decoys, and more) since 1955. He started numbering and signing them in 1980, and he is up to 1,049 now. They cost about $60, depending on the size.

Collectors have been purchasing them in good number. “A lot of my decoys don’t go in the water anymore,” said the retired compressor worker. Schmidt traveled all over the world repairing oil-rig pipes, the type used in oceans as well as the Alaskan pipeline. Now he stays close to home and makes decoys.

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