The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
FREMONT — Anglers have been showing up at Bernie Whitt’s bait shop here for many years, anxious to pose for the cameras with their fine catches of walleye and white bass, along with the more photogenic crappie and catfish.
Move over, fellas, there will soon be a new entry in this fishy beauty contest.
Sometime this morning, trucks from the state hatchery at St. Mary’s are scheduled to roll up to the new municipal reservoir and deliver 100,000 yellow perch. This is a huge step towards creating a quality fishery in the years to come.
“It’s really exciting to hear that they are putting a good foundation of yellow perch in there,” said Whitt, who operates Angler’s Supply on Howland Street, near the Sandusky River.
“Some of the best perch fishing around this area has been on reservoirs, so I hope these perch grow like crazy and in a few years this reservoir develops a reputation as a place to catch perch.”
Mike Wilkinson, fish management supervisor for the Ohio Division of Wildlife in this part of the state, said the perch, which are fingerlings two-to-three inches long, should thrive in the new reservoir since it offers an environment with very low presence of predators.
“In this type of situation, typically there will be plenty of food for them so these fish will grow fast,” he said. “We would expect them to be catchable size one-to-two years.”
Yellow Perch fingerlings stocked in the 75 acre Defiance reservoir experienced a significant survival rate and growth rate, reaching eight inches in just two years. The perch stocked in the Fremont reservoir today are expected to feed heavily on zooplankton, aquatic insects, and tiny worms found in the mud at the bottom of the impoundment.
Wilkerson said that fingerling perch are normally stocked in early June, but that this group of fish was held at the hatchery while other issues related to the Fremont reservoir were being resolved. When the city council approved the use of gas motors of 10 horsepower or less on the impoundment, a move which the state had supported, a major hurdle to the stocking was cleared. Last week, the approximately 100 acre reservoir was opened to boats.
Fremont’s perch were to be netted from some of the 26 rearing ponds at the St. Mary’s hatchery this morning. The hatchery is located in western Auglaize County, on the eastern end of Grand Lake St. Marys.
Wilkerson said that fingerling stocking would customarily call for about 500 fish per acre of water, but that the reservoir would receive “a heavier number.”
Whitt said today’s stocking will signal an attractive future option for area anglers who don’t have access to large enough boats to fish Lake Erie.
“Anything that adds fishing opportunities is great,” Whitt said. “We hear from a lot of fishermen that one of the biggest problems they run into is the lack of fishing access. People love to fish, and they just need more places where they can fish.”
Whitt said that during the construction phase he saw rocks being placed in clusters along the bottom of the reservoir to form reefs, which will likely work like a fish magnet for the stocked fish.
“Pretty soon, there should be fish all around those reefs,” he said. “I just hope people will give those fish some time to grow. We could have something really special here in a few years.”
WATERFOWL FESTIVAL: The 66th annual Pointe Mouillee Waterfowl Festival will be held Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Pointe Mouillee State Game Area in Michigan’s Brownstown Township. Admission is free, while donations are accepted for parking. All proceeds will benefit the wetland restoration and wildlife habitat improvement projects at the facility. Cabela’s is sponsoring a Michigan Duck Hunters Tournament, with shooting and boat racing events. There will be a decoy contest as well as exhibits from decoy and bird carvers from across North America. More than 100 vendors are expected to be selling goods at the festival.
The Pointe Mouillee State Game Area is located where the Huron River dumps into Lake Erie. The area is known for its populations of waterfowl, shorebirds, and a variety of wetlands wildlife, and is the site of some of the premier shorebird viewing in Michigan.
Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6068.