DNR: Outlook again good for Lake Erie walleye, perch anglers
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lake Erie anglers have the chance to experience excellent fishing opportunities on Lake Erie in 2019, according to a news release Friday, March 29 from the Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife.
Walleye angler harvest rates set records in 2018, and numerous large hatches point to a bright future, according to the release.
Ohio’s Lake Erie daily bag limit for walleye is four fish per angler and the yellow perch daily bag limit is 30 fish per angler through April 30, 2019. The daily bag limit will be six walleye per angler from May 1 through Feb. 29, 2020. A 15-inch minimum size limit is in effect during the entire season for walleye. The yellow perch daily limit will remain at 30 in all of Ohio’s Lake Erie waters through April of 2020, with no minimum size limit.
“Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch fisheries are managed through an interagency quota system,” according to Kendra Wecker, Chief of the Division of Wildlife. “Each jurisdiction regulates its catches to comply with annually determined safe harvest levels that minimize the risk of over-fishing. Bag limits are based on the quota allocations determined by the interagency group.”
Walleye anglers will mostly catch abundant 4- to 5-year-old fish that will average 19 to 21 inches and could be as large as 26 inches. Abundant young fish from the 2017 and 2018 hatches will show up in anglers’ catches ranging from 9 to 14 inches. Anglers are encouraged to release these sub-legal fish with as little handling as possible so they can contribute to the fishery in the future.
Anglers can expect good perch fishing in the western basin in 2019 as fish from the large 2014 hatch are approaching sizes up to 13 inches. Hatches from 2015 through 2017 will also provide some smaller 7- to 9-inch fish. The 2018-year class is projected to be larger than the 2014-year class and will provide increased numbers of fish in upcoming years.
Central basin anglers should expect the best fishing to be in eastern waters from Fairport Harbor to Conneaut, where the 2012- and 2014-year classes will provide numerous large fish. Central basin populations have declined from the record levels set over 10 years ago and are lacking large hatches that were more common in the past. Hatches in the area from Huron to Fairport Harbor have been consistently below average recently. Anglers’ catches in this region will mostly come from the 2014 and 2015-year classes and will average 9 inches long.
Smallmouth bass and largemouth bass fishing in 2019 should provide both good catch rates and trophy size opportunities. Note that new regulations were implemented for largemouth and smallmouth bass for the 2019 fishing season. The previously closed spring season now allows the harvest of one black bass per day, with a minimum size limit of 18 inches from May 1 until the fourth Saturday of June (June 22), and the daily bag limit will continue to be five black bass per day with a 14-inch minimum size limit the remainder of the season through April 30, 2020.
Updated Lake Erie fishing reports are available at wildohio.gov or by calling 888-HOOKFISH (888-466-5347). Information is available from Division of Wildlife staff from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the Fairport Harbor station (440-352-4199) for the central basin and at the Sandusky station (419-625-8062) for the western basin. Information about the Division of Wildlife’s Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, fishing reports, maps and links to other web resources are available at wildohio.gov.