Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Look for great fishing on Erie

Weather permitting.

That's just the term Lake Erie anglers don't want to see or hear when whetting their appetites for walleye, yellow perch, smallmouth bass and steelhead.

Weather trumps all, when it comes to both fishing and spawning success.

But fishermen are the original, eternal optimists - or they would never fish another day.

So with that, and hopes of fair weather in mind, be prepared for an exceptional fishing season on the greatest of the Great Lakes.

That is the word from biology guru Roger Knight, the Lake Erie program coordinator for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

"Lake Erie remains one of the greatest natural resources in our country," added Knight.

He said anglers have good access to good fishing in the western and central basins via numerous public launch-ramps, private marinas, and shoreline sites. He presents the following rundown of species' potential for 2008:

Walleye - The bulk of the catchable stock again will be from the 2003 megaclass of fish, which remain in good but slowly declining numbers, as happens with all year-classes as they age.

The best part is that these fish will be dandy in size, 20 to 24-inchers, which ought to be a boatload of fun especially in the jig-and-minnow season.

Larger fish, 21 to 27 inches, from earlier hatches will spike the action, and fish from the decent 2005 hatch will add to the variety at a just-legal 15 inches on up to 18 inches.

Occasional bruisers in the 28-inch-plus trophy class remain from strong hatches in the late 1980s and mid 1990s.

Remember also the daily creel limit is four fish in March and April.

Yellow perch - Excellent numbers of 9-to-12-inch fish should be available from the excellent 2003 hatch, though overall perch numbers will be down from 2007.

Fair to moderate hatches in 2005 and 2006 will add some smaller fish to the creel, with a few jumbos also remaining from 2001.

Stay tuned for a possible reduction in the daily creel limit for the western basin when the Ohio Wildlife Council votes on April 2. Currently it is 30 for all Ohio waters of the lake, but it could go to 25 for the western basin this year after July 1 because of the reduced stocks there.

Smallmouth bass - Bass action should be good in 2008 with contributions from hatches in the 1990s and 2003, with fish ranging from 14 to 21 inches and ranging from 1 1/2 to 5 pounds.

Biologists are waiting for what are thought to be several good hatches in recent years to come on-stream.

Remember that the minimum keeper length, if you absolutely must keep a smallmouth instead of releasing it, is 14 inches.

Keep in mind the keeper season is closed May 1 through June 27 for all smallmouth and largemouth bass in the lake.

Bass must be released immediately during the closed season.

Steelhead trout - This fishery should maintain its consistent goodness in the lake's tributary streams, thanks to consistent stocking of some 400,000 hatchery-reared fish a year.

Streams from the Vermilion River on east should provide most of the fishing in fall, winter, and spring, with good offshore trolling opportunities, mostly between Vermilion and Conneaut, for 17-to-29-inch fish in June through August.

White bass - This "bonus" species provides great incidental angling, particularly when a hungry school boils up a school of emerald shiners to the surface.

Much of the catch will be 10-to-14-inch fish from 2005 and 2003. Some 2006 fish from that moderate class will run 8 and 9 inches.

On bad-weather days when you cannot get onto the open lake, or just for something different, Knight reminds anglers that bays, harbors, and marinas provide excellent opportunities for panfish such as crappie and bluegill, plus largemouth bass and, in weedy areas in spring, northern pike and muskellunge.

A host of other information is available on the state Web site, www.wildohio.com, and at www.thenaturalresource.com.


In related news, massive runoff from snowmelt is keeping the Maumee and Sandusky rivers high and dirty, delaying most initial attempts to fish for spring run walleye.

The late-ending winter already has set back activities about two to three weeks from normal.

Gary Lowry at Maumee Tackle said the river Friday was six to seven feet above normal summer, and rising. Water temperature was 40 degrees, which is close to trigger-level for walleye to run, but access is problematic because of the high water. Lowry's reports are available on-line at www.maumeetackle.net.

Eric Kraus at The Natural Resource - Ohio's Maumee-based, all-outdoors Web site - said that a few early, smaller males, or jacks, have been taken in the Side Cut Metropark/Blue Grass Island area and a few females already have been caught in deeper water off Orleans Park on the Perrysburg side - this all before the big runoff began to boost water levels to unfishable levels.

Kraus said the big flooding episode in early February, along with several lesser events, have greatly changed the configuration of gravel bars and beds on the bottom of popular fishing stretches.

So be advised and be careful when wading time comes, and expect to spend some time relearning the restructured fish runs.

Kraus' Web site, www.thenaturalresource.com, has a dandy aerial map of prime Maumee River fishing zones, along with tons of other valuable fishing and outdoors information. Click on "Maumee River Run" under New Features.

Last but not least, Chris Martin at River Lures in Grand Rapids, just done cleaning and opening his riverside shop from the winter flooding, reports that northern pike are upstream, spawning. So the minnow-and-bobber season should be in as soon as the river is down.

Contact Steve Pollick at:


or 419-724-6068.

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