Friday, January 27th, 2023
Friday, January 27th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

More perch, walleye on anglers’ radar

By Mike
Moore
Editor

Columbus — Lake Erie anglers will be able to put more fish in
the boat next year after an early November decision by the Ohio
Wildlife Council.

The council on Nov. 2 voted to increase the spring walleye daily
bag from three to four, which means anglers can keep one more fish
a day during March and April. The walleye bag limit for the rest of
the year remains at six with a 15-inch minimum requirement all
year. The council also increased the perch creel limit from 30 to
40 per day year-round.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife had considered the more liberal
harvest allowances since June and proposed them at a public hearing
in September. Two people spoke out against the increases then and
several wildlife council members said they have received calls
about the proposal.

“I’m convinced that the science supports this change,” said
wildlife council member Lee Howley of Vermillion. “I just wanted to
acknowledge that we’ve been contacted by many people who have
interest in this.”

Gary Isbell, fisheries administrator for the division, said
science supports the increases, especially considering a bumper
crop of walleyes and perch in the 2003 hatch. Perch, in particular,
have rebounded dramatically from their low point in the 1990s, he
said.

“In 2006, the population of both of these species is going to be
enough to support the increased bag limits for Ohio sport anglers,”
said Isbell, who characterized the changes as “modest, justifiable
management steps.” “… There’ll be some additional harvest but the
bigger thing is that it will generate a lot more interest (in
angling).”

The daily creel limit on perch has been at 30 since 1996 when
species numbers were floundering in Lake Erie. Looking back,
Division of Wildlife Chief Steve Gray said that was a desperate
measure to help the species rebound.

“We view the 30 restriction as the most restrictive,” he said.
“It was a drastic move to try to recover the population, and I
think we’ve done so.”

Gray also said the more liberal bag limits are a payback for
patient anglers who support the restrictions in the past.

“We made promises to anglers when times were tougher, and we had
more restrictive bag limits,” he said. “Now, we can give something
back.”

The walleye increases will primarily affect the spring walleye
spawning runs on the Maumee and Sandusky rivers and early season
anglers in the Western Basin, said Lake Erie Fisheries
Administrator Roger Knight.

The walleye hatch, however, was weak in 2004 and 2005, which
means Ohio fisheries biologists have their eyes trained on the 2006
hatch.

“If down-the-road data shows that we need to restrict (bag
limits) again, we’ll be back to ask for that,” Isbell told the
council.

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