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Published: Friday, 9/22/2006

There's good news, bad news when it comes to walleye

The good news is, the female walleyes of Lake Erie's huge 2003 year-class should be mature enough to spawn beginning next spring.

The bad news is, the 2006 walleye production season in the lake was among the poorest three or four year-classes since the 1980s.

State fish biologist Travis Hartman, in assessing the state of recent years' production, noted that only 10 or 12 young-of-year fish showed up in the 41-site August trawling survey by state crews. The August pull usually is an indicator of things to come.

Hartman, who works out of the Lake Erie Fisheries Research Station at Sandusky, is hard-pressed to fathom exactly why things went wrong this year, given what seemed to be decent weather conditions during the critical spawning-hatching season.

It is possible, he theorized, that a spring drought translated into an insufficient supply of nutrients from tributary/watershed runoff, which in turn meant little if any blooms of plankton, microscopic food, for young-of-year to feed on. In any case, ring up '06 pretty much as a bust for walleye.

The biologist noted that '99 was a good year-class, followed by a poor year in '00, a good '01 class, a worst-ever '02, a best-ever megaclass in '03 with 54 young-of-year in the trawl, another very poor class in '04, a poor-fair '05, which was similar to '98, which did not "show up" in some numbers until later, and the sad '06 class.

Yellow perch, on the other hand, provided at least some good production news this year, Hartman noted.

"West of the [Bass] islands, it was pretty darn good," he said. Unfortunately, "the whole other side [central basin] was below average."

The overall perch production picture, then, was poor to fair, the biologist noted. The '05 year-class was good, and the overall perch status is solid.

The presence of eight young-of-year smallmouth bass in the walleye trawls was a good thing - a surprise, even - inasmuch as trawling is not a way to measure smallmouth production. The '03 smallmouth year-class is coming on, '05 looks promising, and now '06 may add some good news, according to Hartman. All of which would be much-needed good news for bass, fishing for which has been mediocre at best this year.

Windy weather again disrupted fishing efforts earlier this week, but with the lake settling and the water cleaning up, some good, if scattered, perch action is possible.

Close to Toledo, try the usual haunts - around the Toledo Harbor Light or near the Turning Buoy at the end of the Toledo Ship Channel, for starters. To the east try a mile west of Green Island, G-Can off Catawba Island State Park, or the southeast corner of Kelleys Island.

Some walleye are being taken northwest of West Reef and around Gull Island and Kelleys Island shoals.

In related news, Bryan Coates of Amherst, Ohio, won boater division of the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League's Buckeye Division event on Lake Erie last weekend with a two-day, 10-bass entry of 42 pounds, 14 ounces. Dave Hayward of Sylvania was second at 41 pounds, 6 ounces. Jared Rhode of Port Clinton was fourth with 37 pounds, 13 ounces. Jeff Rain of St. Marys was top co-angler at 41 pounds, 5 ounces.

For complete Buckeye Division standings visit on-line www.FLWOutdoors.com.

The 10th annual Clean Your Streams Day last Saturday saw 560 volunteers haul out more than 25,000 pounds of trash and litter, a record, from 25 bank-miles on Swan Creek, the Ottawa River and Maumee Bay.

The annual cleanup day is sponsored by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments and the Maumee River RAP, or remedial action program.

The Kirtland's warbler, the most endangered among some three dozen species of wood warblers in the Western Hemisphere, produced a record census of 1,478 singing males, representing nesting pairs, this summer, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The tally exceeded the record 1,415 observed in 2005 and represents the largest census since monitoring began in 1951, including annual checks since 1971. Lows of just 167 pairs were noted in 1974 and 1987.

Most of the nesting pairs are situated in northeast lower Michigan, where habitat manipulation projects now maintain large stands of juvenile jack pines, the Kirtland's sole nesting habitat. The species winters in the Bahamas.

In other bird news, a special daylong program on the Sparrows of Ohio by a consortium of nature organizations is set for Sept. 30, beginning at Painesville Township Park in Painesville, Ohio, just east of Cleveland.

Educational lectures by sparrow authorities are on tap, along with a continental breakfast, lunch, and afternoon field trips and an evening event at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. A special evening presentation, "13 Ways of Looking at a Sparrow," is scheduled by Kenn Kaufman of Graytown, noted birding authority and author of several field guides.

For other details and registration information, contact the Black Swamp Bird Observatory Nature Center at 419-898-4070 or visit on-line www.bsbobird.org.



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