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Lake Erie 2004 Forecast
By Captain Phil Cadez

 The weather was very cold in 2003 and again in 2004 for January and February.  Most of Lake Erie had thick ice thru this period.  Hardy anglers who ventured out on the ice had to have lots of patience.  It was hit and miss but some good catches of walleye were reported on the ice.  Most of the fish were 17 to 24 inches.  A few big females were also offering exciting trophy fishing.

Some true sportsmen that practice catch and release when fishing for smallmouth bass enjoyed some success.  The "jumper" population is down mostly because of the goby.  These little bug eyed pests are all over any rocky reef, structure and island shoreline.  They'll eat the bass eggs and fry when not protected by the spawning grown ups.  The Division of Wildlife has closed smallmouth fishing until the last Saturday of June.   

The casters enjoyed good fishing west of West Sister Island in later May thru June.  There were big walleye caught between Kelley's Island and South Bass dragging bottom bouncers in May.  Mid May and throughout June was great fishing around the reefs in Canada.  Catches of 100 pound limits were almost routine.     

Ohio's shoreline of Lake Erie enjoyed fantastic yellow perch fishing.  From Toledo to Cleveland had great perch fishing from April thru October.  Many fish were from 8 to 13 inches offering great eating among the angler's who fished from the shoreline and especially small boats off shore. 

It isn't official yet but the 2003 walleye hatch might be one of the biggest on record.  This information was obtained from Travis Hartman, the State Biologist in Sandusky Ohio.   All around the islands perch fishermen were bothered by tiny walleye from 4 to 6 inches.  This is about the best news we could have for the future of our Lake.  Most of the catches will include the 1999 hatch which will be around 3 pounds or better.  All in all should be a great year of catchable good sized walleye.

The changes for walleye limit are 3 per day before May 1, after May 1 the limit is 6 fish in possession.   Because of the 30 limit on yellow perch and the regulating of netters 2004 should be a super perch fishing year.  The lake is loaded with food for these voracious eaters.  Most times we fished for them you couldn't count to 10 before you had a perch bite.

Overall should be a great year.  Try to make reservations in advance with an experienced guide.  For information you can call 1 800 BUCKEYE.  Or get on the web www.odnr.wildlife or you can e mail me at capt.phil@cadez-charters.com .  You want to be here most of the catchable walleye will be close to 3 pounds.  GOOD FISHIN,  Captain Phil Cadez.