The 2001 Walleye Report
by Rick Kubb

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In each summer issue of Lake Erie Walleye Magazine, we provide a synopsis of the walleye fishery in Lake Erie based on the scientific reports produced by the fisheries management biologists from the states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.  We’ll report on the estimated size of the walleye population in Lake Erie, walleye growth and migration, catch rates, and other biological factors related to the walleye fish stocks in Lake Erie.

The Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission for the third year in a row has reduced the total allowable catch (TAC) of walleyes. The TAC for 2001 has been set at 3.4 million fish, down 50% percent from the 2000 TAC of 7.7 million fish. The 1999 TAC was higher still at 10 million fish.

Walleye Quotas for 2001

The committee took this action as a result of declining walleye fish stocks since the mid 1990s. It is believed that reducing the TAC by this significant amount over the next few years will help boost the walleye stocks.

Ohio and Ontario receive the majority of the walleye TAC. Of the 2001 TAC of 3.4 million walleyes, Ohio’s share is just over 1.7 million fish, about 51 percent of the TAC. Ontario’s share of the TAC is about 1.4 million fish, or about 43 percent. The remaining estimated 6 percent of the TAC is divided among Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York waters of Lake Erie.

Michigan Waters of Lake Erie

In 2000 anglers harvested an estimated 252,281 walleyes from the Michigan waters of Lake Erie. Of these, a total of 205,215 walleyes were taken by private anglers (81%) and 47,066 fish were taken by charter boat anglers (19%). Walleye fishing peaked in the month of July with 131,763 fish caught (Chart 1). More than 55% of the total annual walleye harvest occurred in the month of July. Overall angler effort in 2000 increased slightly to reach the highest level since 1994.

Age 2,3, and 4 (1998, 1997, and 1996 year classes) walleyes dominated the walleye harvest, comprising 87% of the catch. Harvested and age 2, 3, and 4 walleyes averaged 14.3 inches, 16.9 inches and 18.5 inches in total length.

In 2000 a total of 6,241 walleyes were tagged by Ontario, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan biologists at eight Lake Erie sites. A total of 130 tags were recovered by fishermen for a single season reporting rate of 2.3%. This inter-agency tagging study will continue to provide valuable information regarding walleye movements throughout the lake. Figure 1 indicates the locations where Raisin River tagged walleyes were recovered in 2000. Remarkably, a few fish from the Raisin River tag site moved as far east as Buffalo, NY to the far eastern basin of Lake Erie.

Ohio Waters of Lake Erie

In the year 2000 an estimated .93 million (combined private and charter catch) walleyes were caught in Ohio waters of Lake Erie. This is down just slightly from 1999 (chart 2). The year 2000 private boat harvest of .68 million fish was a 2% decrease from 1999. Targeted effort of 2.2 million angler hours was 16% lower than in 1999. Walleye harvest was the second lowest estimated since the survey began in 1975.

In 2000 there were a total number of 907 licensed charter guides. This was a four percent drop from 1999 and well below the peak of 1,209 licensed charter guides in 1989. The 2000 charter boat walleye harvest of .25 million fish was a dramatic 26% lower than in 1999. The majority of the walleye sport harvest was from the 1996  and the 1998 year class. Age 5 and older walleye constituted 30% of the lakewide catch.

Walleye size in Ohio waters averaged 19 inches and 2.4 pounds. The average size for walleyes increased from west to east (chart 3, figure 3). In District 1 (western basin) walleyes caught averaged ...........

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