Lake Erie fishing will exceed expectations

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Lake Erie angler
(Source: Pixabay Stock Photos)

COLUMBUS — Fishing will continue to exceed expectations on Lake Erie in 2020, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

Walleye harvest rates set records for the second straight year in 2019, and numerous large hatches point to an increasingly bright future.

The top Lake Erie walleye catch rates from 2019 were in June, July and May, respectively, according to surveys conducted by the Division of Wildlife, so the best fishing this year is yet to come. An estimated 116 million walleye 2 years old and older are found in Lake Erie. Many of these 2-year-old walleye will reach the 15-inch minimum size length necessary to be included in the daily bag limit during the summer.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, fishing is a pursuit that can be enjoyed while safely practicing social distancing. The Ohio Department of Health’s COVID-19 safety rules and guidelines for fishing can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/fishing.pdf.

For more information on COVID-19 and the Ohio Department of Health’s recommendations on prevention and preparation, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.

The walleye bag limit on Lake Erie is six fish per angler with a 15-inch minimum size length. 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.

Walleye

Walleye anglers will mostly catch abundant 3-, 5- and 6-year-old fish that should average 20 inches and could be as large as 26 inches. Abundant young fish from the 2018 and 2019 hatches 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.

Additional opportunities

Smallmouth bass and largemouth bass fishing in 2020 should provide good fishing and trophy catches. Anglers may harvest one bass per day, with a minimum size limit of 18 inches from May 1 to June 26. The daily limit is five bass per day with a 14-inch minimum size limit from June 27 to April 30, 2021.

The yellow perch daily bag limit is 30. Yellow perch fishing has been slower than in previous years throughout the lake, and this pattern may continue. The western basin population is strong, with an abundance of trophy-sized fish and a promising future from an above-average 2018 hatch that is growing exceptionally fast.

The central basin population density is less than that of the western basin, but eastern Ohio’s waters should yield above-average fish from the 2012 and 2014 hatches. Updated Lake Erie fishing reports are available by calling 888-466-5347.

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