Thursday, October 30, 2014

Excellent fish recruitment anywhere else is just average for Lake Erie

Wade through the bad news regarding Lake Erie and you’ll have to push aside the scum line of the zebra mussel, sea lamprey and round goby take-overs, the threat of a possible Asian carp invasion and even the return of the pea-soup blue-green algae.

Consequently, folks tend to forget, ignore or possibly disbelieve that some good still resides in this 9,910-square mile freshwater puddle.

Exclude anglers in that last category, however, even though this demographic subset is happy to grouse about what is wrong now and what may be even worse down the road.

All that being said fishers of Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch will continue to find an abundant supply of targets in the coming years. The reason is that the Ohio Division of Wildlife is reporting no worse than an average hatch of baby walleye and toddler perch this year.

And though “average” is a relative term, what anglers in other states would say is a “wow” hatch, on Lake Erie the state’s fisheries biologist shrug their shoulders and say “oh, just average.”

We’ll take it, of course.

Without being too overly boring by using such biological geek squad terms as “bottom trawls” and “per hectare,” data compiled by the Wildlife Division says this year’s walleye hatch is “similar to the average hatches of 2001, 2007, and 2010.”

“Average hatches from three of the past eight years has resulted in a broad range of walleye ages and sizes that make up the Lake Erie walleye population,” the agency’s Lake Erie fish recruitment synopsis says.

“Based upon result(s) from the August trawl surveys, it appears that the 2014 hatch was near average and should contribute to the fishery in future years.”

Even better was the lake’s 2014 yellow perch hatch. Here, the species’ recruit was better than average in the Lake Erie waters of both Ohio and Ontario, says the Wildlife Division.

“This (was) the forth-best yellow perch hatch in the Western Basin since the interagency survey began in 1987,” the Wildlife Division’s synopsis says.

Thus, “two back-to-back” good yellow perch hatches should help the perch population in the Western Basin rebuild.”

Translation: This will “lead to quality fishing in the near future,” the Wildlife Division’s rosy prognosis says.

Anyone who has wet a line for walleye or yellow perch elsewhere and also Lake Erie will almost certainly say that the latter all ready qualifies as a quality fisheries.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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