Lake Erie's walleye, perch below average in 2012

Lake Erie's walleye and perch hatches were below average last year, but that shouldn't impact fishing this year, according to state wildlife officials.
Associated Press
Jan 28, 2013

 

That's because it takes two years for walleye and perch to grow big enough to be caught and kept by anglers.

There are still plenty of good-sized fish from better years, said Jeff Tyson, fisheries biologist supervisor for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

"There's a good chance of catching a big fish," he said.

Walleye and perch are among the most popular sport fish in the lake, and they help draw thousands of anglers to the towns along Lake Erie's Ohio coast. Fishing in Ohio brings in an estimated $1.1 billion through the equipment, fuel, food and hotels.

The economy and the lake's algae blooms, though, have made it tough for charter fishing businesses in recent years.

Wildlife officials continue to study what makes a good hatch, Tyson said. Ice cover during the winter, a gradual spring warming and rain are thought to help. Heavy winds aren't good because they can blow fish eggs off the reefs where the fish spawn.

"Last year, we didn't have any ice cover. It was a relatively dry spring as well," Tyson said.

Walleye spawn in March and April, and perch spawn in April and May.

The Division of Wildlife found last year's average after conducting checks for juvenile fish in Lake Erie's western and central basins in August, he said. The fishing outlook in the lake is helped by strong walleye and perch hatches from earlier years and should help make up for the down year in the future.

The 2003 walleye hatch was the best on record.

"That was a whopper," he said. "That's what's kind of driving the big fish bite."

Those walleye are now at least 30 inches long, and could be found around the lake another decade. Walleye have been known to live more than 20 years, Tyson said.

"They're a fairly long-lived fish," he said.

 

Comments

rick.graham

We need some good hatches soon!

Steelerfan7272

Yea I couldn't agree more! We have been on a few charters the last two years and the fishing has sucked! It's pretty bad when there are 15+ people on a big head boat and the biggest fish caught all day is sheep head!! BIG FISH BIG FISH!! Lol

Speakezy

I bet the Canadians had good catches! Since they are not regulated like the US.

Kimo

How about we hold more big tournaments?

Wal-Mart could hold two of theirs instead of just one.

Tourism and profits at the expense of the fish population, it’s called capitalism. Hold them in the spring/hatch season.

Americans have been blaming the Canadians for the last fifty years.
Fifty years of rhetoric, arguments, and limits has produced less fish in the lake.

In the winters of the forties and fifties it was common for Milt to take the seats out of a Ford and pack it full of fisherman and burlap bags full of perch and walleye. Once in a while you would catch a blue pike. Blue pike were overfished and are all but a memory for us old farts.
.

rick.graham

The real issues on the fish populations deal with water quality issues as enforced or lack of enforcement by Ohio EPA, which so far appears to be big businesses friend. Permits issued to Bay Shore Power Plant and US Army Corps of Engineers for open lake dumping of dredge spoils continues.