Koenigs, who graduated with a master’s in biology, is the senior fisheries and Winnebago sturgeon biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Growing up on the East shore of Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin’s largest lake, in Chilton, Wis., helped develop Koenigs in to the avid, diehard fisherman he is today.
“I grew up fishing it (Lake Winnebago) with my dad and grandpa and went sturgeon spearing,” Koenigs said. “For me, taking the job was a no-brainer.”
As the senior fisheries biologist and Winnebago sturgeon biologist Koenigs tracks the Winnebago sturgeon population, manages spearfishing in February, including regulations and scheduling registration stations, for the 12,000 people who purchase sturgeon licenses.
“My job is so rewarding because I am working with and doing something I love,” Koenigs said.
A large part of Koenigs’ role with the Wisconsin DNR is educating the public on sturgeon spearfishing, which he said he is comfortable with because of the leadership skills he gained in his graduate program at UW Oshkosh.
“My master’s program helped me work on my communication skills,” Koenigs said. “I wasn’t out-spoken and public speaking made me nervous. UWO helped me work on my public speaking and improve my critical thinking skills.”
“Ryan has excellent written and verbal communication skills, which are important in most leadership positions,” Bob Stelzer, biology graduate program coordinator, said. “Mr. Koenigs was an exemplary student in our program and has already published two papers based on his thesis research.”
For the spring sturgeon spawning assessment, Koenigs coordinates crews to handle the sturgeon, using leadership skills he gained in graduate school.
“As a Senior Fisheries Biologist and the lead sturgeon biologist on the Lake Winnebago System, Ryan helps lead a large team of fisheries biologists and frequently gives public presentations about the status of the fishery in the Lake Winnebago System,” Stelzer said.
Koenigs said the sturgeon spawning assessments allow them to predict the number of sturgeon in the Winnebago system, which they use to set the sturgeon spearfishing limits for the next season.