Lake Erie Walleye Magazine
Spring 2002 Vol. 8, No. 1
HOT OFF THE PRESS
Walleye Fact File
Spring 2001 Hatches Above Average
Bottom trawl assessments show the spring 2001
hatches of walleye and yellow perch are well above long-term averages, with walleye abundance in the top third of the series, and yellow perch abundance the second best in the series (behind the 1996 hatch). However, few walleye and yellow perch from the 2000 hatch were present in the catch as expected. Good numbers of walleye and yellow perch from the 1999 hatches were also present in both August and fall netting surveys.
August bottom trawling surveys showed average to slightly above average numbers of forage fish with a strong showing from gizzard shad and emerald shiners and poor catches of smelt and spottail shiners.
Round Gobies Making Headway Into Pennsylvania Lake Erie Streams; Elk Creek Has Highest Density
The round goby, an aggressive, non-native species
of fish introduced to the Great Lakes in the early 1990s by the ballast water of ocean-going vessels, has invaded the state’s tributaries of Lake Erie according to Pennsylvania Sea Grant-supported research by a Gannon University biologist.
After collecting samples from six tributaries that feed Lake Erie, Dr. Edward C. Phillips found that the goby population was most dense in Elk Creek, where just over 137 gobies were collected per hour of electrofishing. Where present, gobies made up 17.1 percent of the fish present in Elk Creek, and were found as far as 1.4 miles from the mouth of the creek.
Round gobies had their second greatest density in Twenty Mile Creek, where almost 104 round gobies were collected in an hour. Gobies made up 30.4 percent of the fish collected, but were found no farther than four-tenths of a mile upstream, where a waterfall blocks further invasion.
The third greatest density of round gobies was found in Walnut Creek. Gobies made up 12.7 percent of the fish collected, and were found as far as three-tenths of a mile upstream. Gobies comprised only 1.5 percent of the fish found in Sixteen Mile Creek, primarily because fish were collected only from a pool just above the mouth.
No gobies were found in Twelve Mile Creek or Conneaut Creek. And no round gobies were collected in upstream areas of the sampled streams, indicating that thus far there has been no bait-bucket transfer of the fish.
Steelhead Program Expands
Vermilion River to receive 55,000 stocked steelhead
Due to the success of the steelhead trout program
in Conneaut Creek and the Rocky, Grand and Chagrin Rivers, the Division of Wildlife is expanding the stocking program to include the Vermilion River. The Vermilion River is located about 35 miles west of Cleveland.
"Angler satisfaction with Ohio’s steelhead fishery continues to grow, as does our commitment to the stocking program," said Gary Isbell, fisheries executive administrator for the Wildlife.
"As more and more anglers seek out this exciting steelhead fishery, we wanted to provided additional fishing opportunities. Given biological factors and access opportunities, the Vermilion River was our best option," he said.
The first good run of stocked fish in the Vermilion should occur in the fall of 2003. By then, stream anglers can expect an average steelhead trout to be 25 inches long and weigh five to six pounds.
The Lorain County Metro Parks, Ohio Central basin Steelheaders, North Coast Fly Fishers, and Pennsylvania Boat and Fish Commission were consulted in regards to the proposed changes for the steelhead program.
As part of both state’s increased focus on the steelhead fishery, an agreement has been secured with Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to cooperatively stock steelhead in Conneaut Creek. Each agency will annually stock up to 75,000 yearling steelhead into Conneaut Creek.
"Conneaut Creek offers good public access and water quality," said Kevin Kayle, supervisor of ODNR’s Fairport Harbor Fisheries Research Station. "We met with Pennsylvania fisheries biologists and decided that by working together, we could improve fishing opportunities for both Ohio and Pennsylvania anglers. And, Pennsylvania’s contribution toward stocking the Conneaut will make it much easier for us to begin placing fish in the Vermilion River."
To provide opportunities for a quality Vermilion River steelhead fishery, stocking numbers in three other Ohio steelhead streams will be slightly adjusted. This spring, the Grand, Chagrin and Rocky Rivers will each receive 90,000 yearling steelhead. The Vermilion River will receive 55,000 yearling steelhead.
Sturgeon Sightings Continue
Nineteen sturgeon were reported from Ohio and
Michigan waters of Lake Erie during 2001. Four were surprise catches by ice fishermen, nine others were caught by anglers on the open lake, and another was reported by a recreational boater. Three sturgeon were caught and released from commercial fishing nets. Two observations were from shoreline residents.
An especially noteworthy sturgeon report was a 7-inch fish caught by a perch angler a couple miles north of the Portage River mouth in Western Lake Erie last October. This fish would have been spawned last spring. This young-of-the-year fish in addition to a number of catches of juvenile sturgeon three to six years old (measuring 14-24 inches) lends credence that sturgeon are reproducing.
Over 4,000 sturgeon have been tagged in an interagency tagging study to collect information on sturgeon populations in Lake Erie and connecting waterways in the lower Great Lakes. Recaptures of these highly migratory fish will help biologists learn more about the population, migration movements and possible spawning grounds.
Anyone who catches a lake sturgeon should release it back into the water immediately and report it to the Division of Wildlife at (419) 625-8062 or 1-800-WILDLIFE. Helpful information would include the date and place of the observation, length of the fish, and any tag information and a photograph if possible.