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Published: Tuesday, 3/30/2010

Walleye limit staying at '4 and 6'

Cornelia Wagner of Whitehouse holds up a stringer of three walleye she caught off Maumee River. Cornelia Wagner of Whitehouse holds up a stringer of three walleye she caught off Maumee River.
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The daily creel limit for Lake Erie walleye will remain intact at "four and six" through at least next February, this following setting of annual catch-quotas for 2010 by the Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

A current daily limit of four walleye remains in place through April, and a six-fish limit remains for the rest of the year as has been standard in recent years.

This year's quota for Ohio was set at 1.1 million walleye, said Jeff Tyson, supervisor of Lake Erie fisheries management and research for the Ohio Division of Wildlife. That is 600,000 fish above a cutoff that would have triggered a reduced limit of five fish per day after April 30.

Several years ago state fisheries biologists

developed a schedule of decreasing creel limits based on an extensive analysis of status of the fish stock. That table was incorporated into the Ohio Administrative Code to provide precise guidance on limits based on annual LEC/GLFC quotas that may fall below 950,000 fish.

The GLFC committee, composed of biologists from Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario met last week in Windsor to assess their pooled survey data and set quotas. The lake-wide quota for all agencies this year is 2.2 million fish, down from 2.45 million in 2009. Ohio receives the largest share, all devoted to sport fishing, while Ontario is second, with much of its catch going to a commercial gillnet fishery.

The standing stock this year is estimated at 19.6 million walleye, also down slightly but above a 15 million level that would trigger emergency fishing orders to reduce catches.

Lake Erie's walleye stocks have been in decline because of just poor to fair hatches since a mega-class in 2003. Only the 2007 year-class had any promise. As a result, the current fishing is surviving mostly on two year-classes.

Tyson said the prospects for creel limits in 2011 is uncertain, but potential reductions are looming. That is because the 2009 year-class produced just three million fish and two-year-old fish in good years typically supply the bulk of the stock.

Erie anglers last year caught some 970,000 walleye, which safely was under the quota of 1.25 million. But if anglers repeat the same level of landings, the 2010 creel will be much closer to the 1.1 million quota this year.

Quota talk aside, Tyson noted the actual fishing experience by anglers this year as usual will have more to do with timing and fair weather, that is, being able to get out and fish when and where walleye are active.

A 15-inch minimum keeper size remains in effect during the entire season.

In related news, high-water access sites will be the focus of walleye fishing efforts on the Maumee and Sandusky rivers for a few days, thanks to the steady rain on Sunday and resultant higher flows.

Wading to Blue Grass Island at Side Cut Metropark on the Maumee for instance was not possible yesterday. Down river sites flanking the Maumee-Perrysburg Bridge should provide high-water access, however.

The Maumee was about three feet above normal and at 47 degrees yesterday, and fish activity had picked up over Sunday's rain-slowed action. Visibility again was poor.

In Fremont, the best action remained between the downtown bridges. The river was about 18 inches above normal and moderately muddy.

On western Lake Erie, too-strong winds Sunday and yesterday kept boat-anglers pinned to shore. But as soon as the wind drops, expect jig-and-minnow action to be available anywhere along the western shoreline from just 12 feet of water on in, said Rick Ferguson at Al Szuch Live Bait in Jerusalem Township.

He said that activity at this time of year with minnows should be decent even with reduced visibility from wind-muddied water.

The Maumee Bay Carvers in conjunction with the Toledo Woodcraft store, 5311 Airport Hwy., are conducting a Carve Along public program at the shop on Thursdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. A goodwill offering is collected weekly and given to a charity selected by the Carve Along participants. For details call Steve Secord at 419-385-6020.

Federal funds to subsidize removal of diseased ash trees are available to residents of the cities of Fremont and Port Clinton and surrounding areas who sign up by May 7, according to WSOS Community Action Commission.

To be eligible residents must have annual incomes of no more than $32,490 for a single-person household and up to $88,590 for a six-person household. Residents will be asked to provide proof of income.

For details call Cindy Brookes at 419-334-5016 or visit online wsos.org or sanduskyriver.org.

Contact Steve Pollick at:

spollick@theblade.com

or 419-724-6068.



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