Friday, March 26, 2010

Lake Erie walleye quotas strong (Same daily bag limit)

Lake Erie walleye fishermen will be able to fill their coolers this summer with the same number of fish they could keep last year.

And Lake Erie yellow perch anglers in the Western Basin will have an opportunity to creel five more fish starting May 1.

The Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission concluded meetings Thursday and has allocated 2.2 million walleye for all waters of Lake Erie, down slightly from last year’s quota of 2.45 million fish.

“While this number represents a conservative number, it still results in a quota for Ohio that does not reduce our daily bag limit over what it has been recently,” said Ray Petering, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s fisheries executive administrator, on Friday.

“Consequently, the bag limit on walleye will remain at six fish from May 1, 2010 to Feb. 28, 2011 and four walleye during March and April of next year.”

As far as yellow perch is concerned, Ohio’s yellow perch quota is 5.25 million pounds of fish, down only slightly.

Thus, all Ohio Lake Erie sport anglers will be able to keep 30 fish per day, effective beginning May 1. Last year those perch anglers west of Huron could keep only 25 yellow perch per day, a condition that still applies to the Western Basin but only prior to May 1, says Randy Miller, the agency’s assistant chief.

“What has us concerned is that we know the walleye population is down so what will determine where we’ll go will depend on this year’s sport harvest and the 2010 hatch. That will determine our position in 2011,” Miller said also.

Painesville Township licensed charter captain Ron Johnson said that had the state cut the daily bag limit to five fish his business would have survived. But the industry’s fear is that much more restrictive bag limits will come if the lake’s walleye population doesn’t grow, Johnson says.

“We should have at least cut it back to five walleye per day and have the Canadians cut their quota, too. If we don’t get a hatch this year we’re going to get hammered next year. We’re catching walleye faster than they can be replenished, given current levels,” said Johnson.

“I actually think they should have lowered the limit a couple of years ago.”
Charter captain Jim Schonauer said he is surprised that the daily bag limit will remain the same and wasn’t reduced.

“So I don’t know what to think about the walleye. You sort of have mixed emotions, though I expect the decision will still make a lot of other charter captains and fishermen happy,” he said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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