ODNR shares walleye, perch hatch data

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Lake Erie by Ken Lund (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenlund/7992964938)], via Flickr

Anglers who follow the world class Lake Erie walleye fishing can rest assured that the big lake is coming back strong after a few years of diminished numbers and less than robust catches.

Indeed, the past several spawns of walleyes have been average at worst and very impressive at best.

Each August state wildlife officials pull trawl nets through carefully defined areas to gather young of the year walleye fingerlings, tiny fish that are counted and the numbers recorded for comparison with previous years. Yellow perch hatches are also tested annually.

While walleyes are expected to be relatively plentiful for the next several years, perch are not gaining in numbers at the same rate of growth. A recent release by the  Ohio Department of Natural Resources shows the 2016 hatch results for yellow perch and walleye in Lake Erie.

ODNR release

Based on data shared in a release by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) for 2016 Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch hatches, yellow perch hatch was near its annual average while the walleye hatch was below average.

Bottom trawling surveys were conducted at 40 sampling locations across Ohio waters of the western basin and based.

Perch up

Results from the August trawl surveys show the 2016 yellow perch hatch had 398 yellow perch per hectare compared to the long-term average of 406 yellow perch per hectare.

Four good yellow perch hatches in a row should help the perch population in the western basin rebuild and lead to quality yellow perch fishing over the next several years.

Walleye down

The 2016 walleye hatch was below average but is strong enough to help support the fishery. Last year’s hatch was the fourth highest on record, and those fish are still plentiful in the lake.

Average to excellent hatches from four of the past 10 years have resulted in a broad range of walleye ages and sizes that make up the current Lake Erie walleye population. Results from Ohio’s surveys found 6.7 walleye per hectare. The average since 1988 is 27 walleye per hectare.

Initial reports from bottom trawl surveys conducted by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in Ontario waters of the western basin show similar results.

To estimate the basin-wide hatch of walleye, Ohio and Ontario bottom trawl data are combined.

The resulting basin-wide average catch for 2016 is 9 young-of-the-year walleye per hectare compared to the long-term average of 32 young-of-the-year walleye per hectare.

Information on the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, fishing reports, and maps and links to other Lake Erie web resources are available at wildohio.gov.

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.

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