Erie walleye fishing: The perfect (winter) storm?
Two separate stories – if they can come together – could make for a memorable end of the year and beyond for Ohio winter walleye anglers.
According to a report from The Weather Network, with frigid temperatures in the forecast across the Great Lakes region the weekend leading up to New Year’s Day (and beyond), Lake Erie could see its first December freeze-up since 2000.
That means ice on which to tap a walleye fishery that could harken back to Erie’s “good old days.”
According to reports, many fish from several recent outstanding hatches have now matured into keeper-sized walleyes of 15 inches or longer; Travis Hartman, Lake Erie program administrator for the Ohio Division of Wildlife, told The Blade out of Toledo, Ohio, that the 2015 walleye hatch is one of the largest ever studied and walleye numbers should be off the charts.
Captain Mike McCroskey of Hawg Hanger Charters out of Lake Erie would concur.
“Yes, we were measuring fish all day this past year, but in 2018 they will all be keepers. Those young walleyes were hungry, and once they get some weight on them, we should once again have 100-pound boxes of fish,” he told The Blade, referring to the haul of a six-man charter party. “The whole bottom of the lake is covered in walleyes.”
Hartman added that the walleye class of 2003 will continue to provide most of the true trophy fish, but strong hatches in 2007 and 2010 and those outstanding hatches in 2014 and 2015 could make for the best walleye fishing in decades.
“When you consider the now-trophy-sized 2003 year class, and also strong 2007 and 2010 classes, I would argue that we have the best mix of trophy potential and total numbers of fish that we have seen since the 1980s and early 1990s,” he told The Blade.
The report went on to say that, along with the brisk walleye action this past year came a strong yellow perch bite.
“I have been perchin’ since 1968, and this year the perch fishing was the best I’ve seen since then,” McCroskey said.
According to The Weather Network, “A frigid blast from the Polar Vortex has caused temperatures to plunge over the Great Lakes, and this is expected to have a profound effect on Lake Erie, as the lake could go from nearly ice free to almost completely frozen before the end of 2017. … “The daytime high temperatures will struggle to reach minus-10 most days across the south (part of the lake), feeling even colder with windchill, while cottage country will see highs of minus-15 to minus-20. This will result in dangerous wind chills at times.”
While that’s good for building ice, those temps create concerns for all outdoors activities – events planned around the kickoff to 2018 were being canceled across the Great Lakes region, including:
- In New York, First Day Hikes slated for Monday, Jan. 1 on Adirondack trails were canceled due to a forecast of bitter cold, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced Friday. The cancelled New Year’s celebration hikes are Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain, Hadley Mountain, and Willie Wildlife Marsh. The hike to the summit of Stillwater Mountain, Herkimer County, has been rescheduled for Monday, Jan.15 at 10 a.m. local time. In a Tweet later Friday afternoon, the NYSDEC said “Most #FirstDayHikes are still a go. Hikes at Cath. Valley Trail; Green Lakes; Grafton; Olana; and 3 ADK sites are cancelled. Hikes at Genesee Val Greenway; Peebles Is. & Stillwater postponed. Check w/ host site to confirm. Dress warm & have fun.” (Go to http://ow.ly/r7g330huekO for more information on the hikes.)
- The Minnesota DNR has canceled the popular Fort Snelling State Park New Year’s Eve Candlelight Walk at the Twin Cities park. Additional candlelight walks are scheduled in the metro area at a later date: On Friday, Jan. 26, Gateway State Trail will offer a one-mile walk. In addition, three metro-area candlelight walks will be held on Saturday, Feb. 3 – at Afton State Park, Lake Maria State Park, and William O’Brien State Park. For times and locations of all DNR Parks and Trails candlelight events, go to mndnr.gov/candlelight.
- With temperatures predicted to dip well below zero, the Iowa DNR has canceled all 27 First Day Hikes scheduled for New Year’s Day.