From the Editor

I love clichés (not really). How about this one; "Kill the messenger". As an avid walleye fisherman, when I’ve had a year like the previous one (few fish in my cooler too), the uneducated side of me feels like giving the local extension officer or fisheries biologist an earful. Then my better senses take hold and I say wait a minute. Let’s not kill the messenger after all.

Biologists are for the most part carrying the message of what’s happening to the Lake Erie Fishery resources. Sure, fisheries management decisions are part of the process. But more than anything, Mother Nature is the primary force that guides how Lake Erie will produce from year to year and biologists keep us all informed as to how Mother Nature is doing.

Biologists are like baseball managers. They receive too much credit when fishing is good and are criticized all too much when times are tough. Biologists are luckier than major league managers though. They usually get to keep their job during the bad times.

Now I don’t mean to say that biologists and fisheries managers have no impact at all. There are important fisheries management decisions that are made that can dramatically impact Lake Erie’s future fishery resources. There are also political and legislative decisions that can potentially produce major impacts.

One such example is the recent passing of the Ohio Senate Bill (SB) 241. This law reestablishes the Division of Wildlife’s authority to manage the Lake Erie Fishery by rule and clears up vague language that confused enforcement cases in the past and hindered the Division of Wildlife’s ability to act quickly and decisively when the need arose. SB 241 clarifies the management of commercial fishing in three ways. First, the new law limits the commercial fishing rules to a five-year period. Second, the bill seeks to update the fish sizes for yellow perch, white bass and channel catfish in order to insure that the fish have an adequate opportunity to spawn prior to becoming a target of commercial fishermen. Third, the bill changes the opening date for commercial fishing for yellow perch from March 1 to May 1.

Kudos to Ohio State Senator Robert Gardner, for sponsoring the bill, and to the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association and all other organizations and individuals that supported it.

Now a word about lake levels. Sure lake levels are low and causing much distress to boaters and fishermen alike. But low is a relative term. Current lake levels are low relative to a few years ago. But in nature’s grand scheme, these levels are moderate and the lake levels that we’ve all enjoyed the past several years have actually been higher than normal.

It was explained to me at the Spring Charter Captains Conference that lake levels occur in long 20-30 year cycles and we are just now entering a cycle of moderate lake levels (relative to the long term) and low (relative to the short term). The experts predict that lake levels in Lake Erie will continue to drop. In other words, it’s likely going to get worse, before better. We need to just deal with it and get on with our fishing and boating pleasures.

Till next time, good fishing!!