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Walleyes take summer vacations, too

On Sundays, I have my DVR set to record the Wild Ohio show from the Ohio Division of Wildlife which on one of the local PBS stations very early in the morning … long before I awaken for the day.

Then, sometime in the next day or two I watch it. It’s only a half hour show, but I enjoy all the outdoor stuff they cover each week. The only problem is you never know how old the program is. I don’t think any that station carries are current … but most of the stories are timeless.

I was watching last Sunday morning’s version a couple of days ago and darned if I didn’t learn something I never knew. Did you know a portion of the walleyes that spawn in the Maumee River and on the reef complexes of Lake Erie travel all the way up to live part of the year in Lake Huron?

Biologists know this for certain because they are tracking a few hundred walleyes electronically.

The system is the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System or GLATOS.

Researchers implanted 400 walleyes with transmitters and have been tracking fish movement through a network of receivers placed on the bottom of the lakes.

Chris Vandergoot from ODNR’s Sandusky Fisheries Unit, said data has been continuously coming in since 2011.

“Each time a tagged fish passes one of our receivers it’s like the E-ZPass on the turnpike; it logs the ID of the fish and the time it was there. So it gives us real data about the fish’s movement.”

Vandergoot estimated 5-6 percent of the fish that spawn in the Maumee go to Lake Huron and some have traveled as far north as The Straits of Mackinac. Some, however, migrate east to the deeper, cooler Central Basin of Lake Erie. Others remain in the Western Basin all year.
It’s like humans who live in northern states during the hot summer and then head for southern states in the winter.

“We think the fish always go to the same places,” Vandergoot said. “If they go to Huron, they always go back there. Those fish don’t go north one year and east the next.”

He said the test fish have always been about three years old, so it is unknown if younger fish are also migrating.

While the original fish are still out there, new, similar projects have begun with walleyes from Toussant Reef and the Sandusky River.

If anyone catches a tagged fish, there is a $100 reward for reporting and returning the transmitter. Those fish are tagged externally as well. You can take the fish home and eat it or release it. Either way, the GLATOS folks want to know about it.

“We want people to do with the fish what they normally do,” Vandergoot said.
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Grand Lake group honored
The Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration Commission was recently honored by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio, which presented the volunteer group with its annual Bruce Dawson Memorial Award.

The award is presented annually to an Ohio non-profit group which is involved with outdoor restoration, development, conservation or teaching. It is named for the former head of the journalism department at Sinclair Community College. Mr. Dawson was also an outdoor writer for the Associated Press and some area newspapers. He died in 2005 while serving as president of OWO.

This year the award consisted of a plaque and a $500 check to be used to further the group’s work.

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