DNR: Lake Erie walleye, yellow perch hatches near annual average
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Early data gathered by wildlife agencies in the western basin of Lake Erie indicate that both the walleye and yellow perch hatches were near their annual average, according to the Ohio DNR.
Each year in August, wildlife agencies from around the western basin of Lake Erie sample the waters using bottom trawls in search of young of the year walleye and yellow perch. Data from these bottom trawls are combined into a basin-wide index, and fisheries biologists compare the figures to previous years to estimate the success of the walleye and yellow perch hatches.
Biologists from the ODNR Division of Wildlife conducted bottom trawling surveys at nearly 40 sampling locations across Ohio waters of the western basin. This information provide biologists with an estimate of how many young fish will enter the fishable population two years later.
Based upon results from the August trawl surveys, the 2017 yellow perch hatch was successful in Ohio waters of the western basin. Initial results found 280 yellow perch per hectare compared to the 20-year average of 300 yellow perch per hectare. Five good yellow perch hatches in a row should help the perch population in the western basin continue to rebuild and lead to quality yellow perch fishing over the next several years.
The 2017 walleye hatch was near the 20-year average in Ohio waters of the western basin. Average to excellent hatches from three of the past four years have resulted in an abundance of young walleye to complement the older and larger fish that make up the current Lake Erie walleye population. Results from Ohio’s surveys found 21 walleye per hectare. The average since 1998 is 22 walleye per hectare.
During the upcoming months, Ohio and Ontario bottom trawl data will be combined to estimate the basin-wide hatches of walleye and yellow perch. These estimates will be used as part of the annual process to determine jurisdictional quotas.
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.