Lake Erie fishing quotas announced

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COLUMBUS — Lake Erie walleye fishing will once again be exceptional in 2023, thanks to another year of strong walleye hatches, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Additionally, a stable yellow perch population in Lake Erie’s west zone will provide good fishing in 2023, while low catch rates are expected to continue in the central and east zones.

Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch fisheries are managed through an interagency quota system. Each jurisdiction regulates its catches to comply with annually determined safe harvest levels that ensure sustainability. The most recent quotas were announced on March 30.

Walleye

The walleye daily limit on Lake Erie is six fish per angler with a 15-inch minimum length requirement. Walleye hatch success has been exceptional for seven of the past nine years. Anglers will mostly catch abundant 2- to 5-year-old-fish ranging from 15 to 24 inches.

Larger fish from 2015 and earlier hatches will provide chances to reel in a Fish Ohio qualifying walleye, minimum 28 inches. Abundant young fish will show up in the catch and range from 9 to 14 inches, with an increasing number of 2-year-olds reaching 15 inches as the season progresses. Anglers are encouraged to release these sub-legal fish with as little handling as possible so they can contribute to the future fishery.

Yellow perch

Yellow perch abundance in the west zone from Toledo to Huron is increasing as a large year class of 2-year-old fish will join the population in 2023. The best success is anticipated during July through mid-August when the water temperature is above 76 degrees, and again from mid-October through November as adult perch move to shallower water to feed at water temperatures below 60 degrees. These two time periods provided a majority of angler yellow perch harvest in 2022. Abundant young perch from 7 to 9 inches will dominate the catch, with jumbo 12-inch and larger fish from older year classes also contributing to the catch.

Lake Erie’s central zone from Huron to Fairport Harbor continues to experience low yellow perch abundance, primarily driven by poor to moderate hatches during the past decade. While catch rates are expected to remain low, late season fishing in 2022 provided some limit opportunities from Vermilion to Avon and off of Cleveland.

In the east zone, from Fairport Harbor to Conneaut, the population has declined below the prior 20-year average, but a moderate 2019 hatch has kept abundance above the central zone. Catch rates are expected to remain low during the 2023 season, except for times such as late fall when adult perch congregate in larger schools near harbors. Four-year-old perch from the moderate 2019 year class will average just under 9 inches in length with some reaching 12 inches.

The Lake Erie Committee sets conservative quotas each year to ensure sustainable spawning stocks that will allow the best opportunity for population recovery. Yellow perch daily limits remain as described in the 2023-24 fishing regulations through April 30, 2024, with a daily limit of 30 perch in the west zone, 10 in the central zone, and 30 in the east zone.

Bass

Smallmouth bass and largemouth bass fishing in 2023 will remain good with the opportunity for trophy catches. The daily limit is five bass per day, with a 14-inch minimum size requirement until April 30, and again from June 24 to April 30, 2024. During the spawning season, from May 1 to June 23, anglers may harvest one bass per day with a minimum size requirement of 18 inches.

Lake Erie fishing reports, information on Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, maps and links to other Lake Erie web resources are available at wildohio.gov.

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