The Ohio DNR has put out its Lake Erie Sport Fishing Outlook, and it looks good for the two species that matter most to Chicago area fishermen who trek east: walleye and yellow perch.
Take note of the yellow perch and walleye regs after May 1.
2010 LAKE ERIE SPORT FISHING OUTLOOK IS GOOD
Walleye and Yellow Perch Bag Limits Announced
COLUMBUS, OH -Lake Erie anglers should experience another year of diverse fishing opportunities during 2010, according to biologists with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife.
"We expect fishing to be generally good this year, especially if you are willing to take advantage of the best opportunities," said Roger Knight, Lake Erie fisheries program manager for the Division of Wildlife. "While fishing success will vary among species and seasons, the lake's populations of walleye, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, white bass and steelhead are in fair to excellent condition."
Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch fisheries are managed through an interagency quota system that involves Ontario, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction regulates their catches to comply with their quotas and minimize the risk of over-fishing these species. Quotas for the upcoming fishing season are determined through consensus agreement by these jurisdictions through the Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and are announced publicly in late March of each year.
Beginning this year, walleye and yellow perch bag limits will be set after the quota announcement, and will go into effect May 1, 2010. The daily bag limit for walleye remains four fish per person during March and April, 2010. As a result of the 2010 quota allocation, the walleye bag limit will be six from May 1, 2010 to February 28, 2011, and four from March 1, 2011 to April 30, 2011. A 15-inch minimum size limit is in effect during the entire season.
The daily bag limit is 25 yellow perch per angler in the waters west of Huron and 30 perch per angler from Huron eastward to the Pennsylvania border through April 30, 2010. As a result of the 2010 quota allocation, the yellow perch bag limit will be 30 perch per angler lake wide from May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2011. There is no minimum size limit on yellow perch. Lake Erie anglers can find walleye and yellow perch bag limit information at ODNR offices, in special publications at bait and tackle shops, and on the Web at wildohio.com.
Lake Erie anglers have great access to fishing in the Western and Central basins due to the numerous public boat ramps, private marinas and shoreline areas. They also benefit from having the largest charter boat industry in the Great Lakes.
Ohio walleye anglers will catch fish mostly from the 2007 and 2003 hatches, with some contributions from the 2001, 2005 and 1999 hatches. Walleye from the moderate 2007 hatch will range from 14-19 inches long and will complement the larger 20- to 28-inch fish from the strong 2003 hatch as the major contributors to the Ohio catch. Fish from the fair 2005 hatch should be in the 19- to 23-inch range. Large walleye from strong hatches in the 1980s and mid-1990s still persist in the population, providing "Fish Ohio" (more than 28 inches) opportunities.
"Fish from the 2007 hatch grew faster than expected last year and showed up prominently in our fishery in 2009 and they should dominate the west basin catch this summer," said Knight. "The 2003 hatch is still holding strong and will likely carry most of the Central Basin fisheries, particularly as the waters warm up and large fish migrate eastward to cooler waters."
Perch anglers should encounter fish ranging from 7- to 13-inch fish from the 2007, 2008, 2005 and 2003 hatches in this year's fishery. Lake wide, perch numbers should be similar to levels observed in 2009 in the Western and Central basins. Small fish from the weak 2009 hatch may show up in the fishery in the fall.
"Overall, we expect to have good perch fishing in 2010, with the largest fish coming from the eastern part of the Central Basin," said Knight.
Smallmouth bass fishing in 2010 is expected to be fair. Although bass abundance remains below desired levels, those caught should be of excellent size (15 to 22 inches, weighing 2 to 6 pounds). Bass fishing is best in areas with good bottom structure, which is available across much of the entire Ohio near shore area.
A closed season remains in effect from May 1 through June 25, 2010, during which all black bass (smallmouth and largemouth) must be immediately released. Beginning June 26, 2010, the daily bag limit for bass will remain at five fish, with a 14-inch minimum length limit.
Steelhead anglers should enjoy another year of great fishing in Ohio's Lake Erie tributaries throughout the fall, winter and spring months. Good fishing opportunities will also exist on the open lake when schools of fish can be located. Peak summer steelhead action on Lake Erie can be found offshore from June through August between Vermilion and Conneaut, with catches measuring 17 to 29 inches. Most Lake Erie anglers troll for steelhead in deep waters using spoons with dipsy divers or downriggers. The daily bag limit remains at five fish per person from May 16 to August 31, and two fish per angler between September 1 and May 15, with a 12-inch minimum size limit throughout the year.
White bass will continue to provide excellent seasonal fishing opportunities in the Maumee and Sandusky rivers and in the open lake. The catch will be dominated by hatches from 2003 and 2005, which will include many 13- to 16-inch fish. The 2006 and 2007 hatches were moderate and should contribute 10- to 14-inch fish to the fishery. Anglers should focus on major Western Basin tributaries during May and June and near shore areas of the open lake during summer months. There is no daily bag or size limit on white bass.
Anglers are also advised of numerous fishing opportunities in the bays and harbors on the Ohio shoreline. These inlets offer excellent fishing for panfish including crappie and bluegill, as well as largemouth bass. In early spring, anglers may also catch an occasional Northern pike or muskellunge in vegetated areas.
Anglers are reminded that fishing conditions on Lake Erie can change hourly and adjustments are often necessary to improve success. Anglers should take into account factors such as water temperature, cloud cover, water clarity, boat traffic, wave action, structure and the amount of baitfish in the area. Anglers are also reminded to carefully monitor Lake Erie weather and to seek safe harbor before storms approach.
During the season, updated Lake Erie fishing reports are available online at wildohio.com and by calling 1-888-HOOKFISH.
Division of Wildlife staff members are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at Fairport Harbor (440-352-4199) for Central Basin information and at Sandusky (419-625-8062) for Western Basin information. For additional information on lodging, charter boat services and local launch ramps, contact one of the following lakeshore visitors bureaus:
Ashtabula County Convention & Visitors Bureau - 800-337-6746
Lake County Visitors Bureau - 800-368-5253
Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland - 800-321-1001
Visit Lorain County - 800-334-1673
Erie County Visitors Bureau - 800-255-3743
Sandusky County Visitors Bureau - 800-255-8070
Ottawa County Visitors Bureau - 800-441-1271
Greater Toledo Convention & Visitors Bureau - 800-243-4667
Ohio Division of Travel & Tourism - 800-BUCKEYE
Information on the Division of Wildlife's Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, open lake and steelhead fishing reports, as well as maps and links to other Lake Erie web resources. All these resources are available at wildohio.com: be sure to choose the fishing icon, then select Fisheries Management from the left navigation.