can we as Ohio anglers expect the walleye fishing on Lake Erie to be this year?
Well, it all depends who you talk to.
Walleye are the preferred species almost all anglers who fish Lake Erie
seek. As a result, walleye fishing
becomes a barometer of the health and productivity of Lake Erie.
Let us for a moment take a look at the entire Lake Erie area and its
three basins. We must realize that
Lake Erie touches the shores of the following states New York, Pennsylvania,
Ohio, Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario.
year in early spring the input of data from these four states and Ontario
determines the quotas for sport and commercial fishing.
Since commercial fishermen mostly do walleye fishing in Canadian waters,
sport anglers who fish the U.S. waters almost always challenge those spring
quotas. Considering that, many
times commercial data reveals much about the catchable numbers of walleye that
exist in Lake Erie. Sport anglers numbers are gathered by census takers and
trawling surveys conducted by states. Determining
quotas on the yearly basis helps wildlife managers make their quota decisions
close to the start of the actual fishing season.
most of the U.S. waters lie within the borders of the state of Ohio and most of
the sport anglers walleye fishing is done in Ohio waters, division of wildlife
estimates of catchable walleye play a major role. Sport anglers watch and wait for these quota numbers to come
matter what the quotas are determined to be or what the catchable amount of
walleye are estimated to be, the sport anglers measure their success by how many
walleye they were able to catch. Anglers
must realize that nets, in particular gill nets, are fished 24 hours a day and
catch fish as long as they are in the water.
Hook and line sport anglers however catch fish only when they are biting.
Having said all that lets move on to what we as sport anglers can expect
the fishing in the year 2000 be on Lake Erie.
put one thing to rest very quickly, Lake Erie is still the recognized "
Walleye Capital of the World." No
other body of water offers the quality or quantity of walleye fishing to the
sport anglers. Even though many
times those of us that fish Lake Erie have experienced what we considered to be
lean years, the walleye fishing is better than any other place in America.
that the success of walleye fishing on Lake Erie will be determined by many
factors. The following forecast
will be determined to be a fair and best possible prediction of what can be
expected this year.
end of 1999 produced a new state of Ohio walleye record.
Tom Haberman of Brunswick, Ohio landed a 16.19-pound walleye while perch
fishing on Lake Erie. It surpassed the old Ohio walleye record of 15.95 pounds. The
new record was the talk of Ohio walleye anglers when it was caught November 23,
1999, off Cleveland, Ohio shores. Tom
was fishing with friends for yellow perch with 6-pound test line when he caught
the walleye. In addition a total of 9 new Ohio state record fish were certified
this year across the state.
Magazine recently published a special issue "Angling Adventures 2000,"
the popular fishing publication named Lake Erie a top 10 angling destination for
walleyes, smallmouth bass, and steelhead trout. Stating more PWT records have
been set on Lake Erie than any other of their contest sites. And PWT will return
to Erie in April this year (2000).
Mike Budzik stated, “Good walleye spawning success throughout the 1990s is
sustaining a healthy population of these popular sport fish, which have long
drawn anglers from across the country.”
a recent meeting (12-10-99) of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, Roger
Knight, Lake Erie fish biologist, gave a presentation regarding expected year
2000 walleye fishing.
is what Rodger had to say. “I'm glad that the presentation was helpful to
LECBA and that you and Ohio anglers are trying to become better informed about
Lake Erie issues. As you are learning, this is a very dynamic complex
system and we'll never have all of the answers, but we are certainly trying.
Understanding the challenges we face as fisheries managers in developing and
improving predictive forecasting ability is important to the future of your
charter businesses and sport anglers. We'll do our best to keep you informed.”
continued: “Gobies are included in the forage data beginning fall 1996 and,
while they have increased every year since then, they still made up less than
10% of the peak monthly prey biomass estimate in 1999. Shad were by far
the dominant species.”
following are some of the Ohio Division of Wildlife predictions:
Walleye anglers should have a better year than 1999 since last year had an
exceptionally large bait fish spawn.
Low water levels experienced in 1999, produced by very dry winter, are expected
to rise to normal levels. In 1998 the spawn was poor but 1999 young of the year
trawl samples are expected to show a good spawn season. Which is good news for
Many young 1 & 2 year old walleye never left the Western or Central basins
in 1999 and good numbers of walleye were available in the Central basin into
September of 1999.
Gobies are becoming a baitfish that all species of game fish are eating. Gobies
are being found in deeper waters than in previous years and the yellow perch are
eating them when they are found away from the shoreline. It is expected that the
more walleye - smallmouth bass and perch eat them (gobies) the more their
availability will go down.
A new indicator model was developed in 1999 using the available bait fish vs.
angler success input. The new
indicator points to a good available baitfish spawn, equals a tough walleye
fishing indicator. And poor
baitfish spawn equals a good walleye angler success. Gobies are considered in
this model and yellow perch, walleye and smallmouth are now eating this invader
chart, courtesy of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, demonstrates clearly that when
forage fish are abundant angler success rates go down. Many other factors
determine angler success: weather, water depths, water clarity and much more.
Anglers may want to consider using baits that will
imitate the colors of the goby. If
jigging in spring or trolling the basins in the summer, make sure to add to the
popular silver, gold and chartreuse colors some smoke, brown and sparkle motor
appreciate (usually) the fact that fisheries managers are keeping track of all
the data input from various sources but, the final question still remains, “
How is walleye fishing going to be this year?”
The answer based on all the available sources is…