Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Ohio Insider with Mike Moore: Thoughts on Lake Erie walleye hatch results

The Lake Erie walleye hatch results are a bit later coming out than in previous years, and this will be the case for the foreseeable future. I realize this bit of news is eagerly anticipated as I’ve fielded several phone calls in this regard in the past month or so.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife has changed its process of reporting the hatch results – always an
eagerly anticipated bit of news for Lake Erie anglers – so it can
include the Ontario trawling results to make for a more complete report.

Travis Hartman, Lake Erie program administrator for the Division of Wildlife, spelled out the new strategy in an e-mail message.

“Starting this December, we will be sending out a comprehensive annual December
press release that includes trawl survey indices for both walleye and
yellow perch,” he writes. “This release will utilize the indices that
are directly used for the following spring’s Lake Erie Committee (LEC)
Total Allowable Catch (TAC) setting process. We hope to minimize past
confusion that we have encountered regarding west basin yellow perch
results compared to central basin yellow perch results, along with our
Ohio survey walleye results compared to the eventual combined
(Ohio-Ontario) interagency survey results.”

The problem has been that in previous years the annual September release of
Western Basin walleye and yellow perch catches in trawl surveys have
only utilized Ohio data from Ohio’s surveys. This has led to confusion,
according to Hartman, when compared to combined interagency Ohio and
Ontario survey results, which are used by Lake Erie Committee task
groups for annual population estimates and harvest recommendations.

Additionally, the timing of the September release does not allow for inclusion of
Ohio’s fall trawl results from the Central Basin, Hartman continues. In
the past, Western Basin yellow perch hatch results communicated in
September have been commonly mistaken for lake-wide hatch results.

The bottom line is that the combined, interagency Ohio-Ontario August
Western Basin index is not ready each year until late November.
Therefore, to avoid potential confusion, these results will be reported
in December.

Ohio Outdoor News and its readers are keenly aware of these hatch results each year and we’ve
reported them each time over the publication’s last 18 years. We will
continue to dutifully report them to you, but just at a later date on
the calendar than in the past.

In any event, know that the past several hatches have been good to
excellent, particularly for walleyes, and Lake Erie isn’t going to “run
out of fish” anytime soon. I’ve seen some anglers calling for relaxed
bag limits, possibly allowing fishermen to keep up to 10 walleyes a day,
but in my opinion that wouldn’t be a prudent use of the resource.

Reading the tea leaves from here, I don’t believe that an increase in the
walleye bag limit is anywhere on the Division of Wildlife’s radar. And, I
might add that six fish per angler per day is plenty liberal compared
to some of the walleye bag limits I see in similarly productive waters
from other states.

For example, a big lake in Minnesota just announced a
daily bag limit of one walleye per day. We likely won’t ever get to
that point, but it just serves as an example of how fortunate we are.

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