Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Less than average Lake Erie walleye, perch hatches

With Lake Erie fisheries survey work winding down, state biologists are staring at a lakewide spring walleye hatch that is likely a stretch below the long-term average.

And in the Western Basin the yellow perch hatch appears to have been even more dismal.

Only in the Central Basin does it look like a half-way decent yellow perch hatch.

“The guys here in the Western Basin just finished up their work yesterday, and in consultation with the Canadians we think the hatch may be a little less than the long-term average with what we saw in July being only average,” said Roger Knight, Ohio Division of Wildlife fisheries biologist.

“August does not appear to indicate a particularly poor hatch; maybe between ‘bad’ and ‘average.’ That’s about the best I can say.”

With that being said, Knight noted that given this spring’s tumultuous weather he’s “pretty thankful we have any fish at all.”

“There’s been times in the past where we saw only a fish or two and based on this spring’s weather conditions that was what I was expecting,” Knight said. “It didn’t happen.”

Knight said also the walleye hatched this year will enter the pool of keepers in 2013. And these fish will link with the near-average 2007 year class of walleye with a similar hatch in 2010.

Shrinking in terms of feeding the fisheries, however, will be the walleye from 2003 hatch, which was one of the best all-time hatches, Knight said.

“Next year should not be a bust for anglers by any means,” Knight said. “But what we’d like to see are more fish out of the other year classes.”

Way down, though, appears to be yellow perch recruitment. At least in the Western Basin, Knight says.

“I don’t have a number yet relative to other years but it’s not good,” he said.

Still, the Central Basin’s 2011 yellow perch hatch appears to be a brighter picture than what’s found in the lake’s Western Basin, Knight said.

“We just have to keep plugging along and adjust the regulations to ensure that the take is in line with the supply of fish so that we are not over harvesting,” Knight also said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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