Well, another summer has come and gone and we are in
the midst of fall. September and October is a special time for Lake
Erie. The lake ‘turns over’ at this time each year causing the dynamics
of the fishery to change. Without the thermocline acting as a boundary,
walleye in the lake move more freely about the water column and into
shallower water. This can be both frustrating to those hunting the fall
‘eyes and rewarding, when the ‘eyes can be found.
Later in the fall as water temperatures begin to
plummet the walleyes head west to begin preparations to over winter.
Areas off of Huron, OH are hot spots for walleyes at this time of year.
Several of the central basin charter captains move their boats to Huron
for this walleye action. The walleyes are feeding heavily during the
fall, before winter sets in.
The perch fishing so far this fall has been very
good. Seems that the size of perch is down a bit from last year but the
numbers are there. Weather is the biggest factor controlling the success
of the fall perch angler. Fall storms can really churn up the lake in a
hurry. Not only does it keep boaters off of the lake but following a
‘good erie blow’ it can take a few days for the perch to gather
themselves for another strong ‘bite’.
Conditions on the lake can change quickly and anglers
really need to be aware. Recently I took my wife, sister and father out
for an early morning perch catch. The lake was calm and we limited out
in a few hours and got back to the dock before noon. My mother heard how
well we did and wanted to catch some herself, so we loaded back up and
headed out at 2pm but the wind had picked up and was blowing 15+ knots
directly from the east. After leaving the harbor we found ourselves in
3-5 footers and immediately turned back for a roller coaster ride back
to safe harbor. The lake had gone from calm to heavy seas in only an
hour or two.
In early September I had the opportunity to fish Lake
Ontario with a good friend and charter Captain, Captain Frank Godina of
Top Gun charters. Frank fishes Lake Erie in the spring and moves his
boat to Olcott, NY for Salmon fishing from July through October. We had
a great day on the lake, even though conditions were a little rough and
a recent Lake Ontario storm had churned the lake up causing it to turn
over and scattered the King salmon. We did get three hook ups that
morning and I landed a 20+ pounder (see story inside).
Finally, the Ohio DNR is proposing new regulations
for walleye. They propose to reduce the daily limit from 4 to 3 during
the spring spawn from March through April as well as creating a
year-round 15 inch walleye size limit. The Lake Erie Charter Boat
Association (LECBA) would like to see the proposal changed and have
offered their own view of lowering the bag limit from six to four from
September through April.
Each of these proposals has merit and you can make a
good argument for both, depending on what numbers you look at. Numbers
can be deceiving though. Mark twain said "there are lies, damn lies, and
then there are statisitics".
Whichever proposal is adopted I feel all anglers will
benefit in the long run. These conservation efforts will help us all
enjoy walleye fishing for generations to come in wonderful Lake Erie.
Till next time, good fishing.