The future of fishing on Lake Erie appears to be bright, but wildlife biologists aren’t dishing out any high fives just yet.
“The data we have on this year’s hatch right now is incomplete,” said Chris Zandergoot, biologist supervisor for the Lake Erie Fisheries Unit of the Ohio Division of Wildlife. “Once we get all of the figures from other jurisdictions, we will have a clearer picture.”
What the division does have is data from its own trawls during the month of August. Zandergoot said those results look promising for both walleyes and perch.
For walleyes Zandergoot called it a “slightly below average hatch,” but pointed out that will likely be the third best hatch at the big lake this century. Only the massive 2003 hatch and the plentiful 2007 hatch are likely to rank higher.
“When we say it is below average, that doesn’t mean it is a bad year class,” Zandergoot said. “We saw fish. So it’s certainly better than some of the years when we had almost no hatch at all … like 2002 and 2004.”
The division will continue to conduct trawls and collect data.
Zandergoot said walleyes hatched this year are likely to show up as legal fish sometime during their second year.
The perch picture might be even brighter. Zandergoot was impressed with this year’s hatch and said we will start seeing an abundance of catchable perch during the summer and fall of 2016.