COLUMBUS — Early data gathered by wildlife agencies in the western basin of Lake Erie indicate that the yellow perch hatch was near its annual average while the walleye hatch was below average, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
Each year in August, wildlife agencies from around the western basin of Lake Erie sample the waters using bottom trawls in search of young of the year walleye and yellow perch. Data from these bottom trawls are combined into a basin-wide index, and fisheries biologists compare the figures to previous years to estimate the success of the walleye and yellow perch hatches. Biologists from the ODNR Division of Wildlife conducted bottom trawling surveys at nearly 40 sampling locations across Ohio waters of the western basin. This data provides biologists with an estimate on how many young fish will enter the fishable population two years later.
Based upon results from the August trawl surveys the 2016 yellow perch hatch appears to have been successful in both Ohio and Ontario waters of the western basin. Initial results from the combined basin-wide hatch of yellow perch found 398 yellow perch per hectare compared to the long-term average of 406 yellow perch per hectare. Four good yellow perch hatches in a row should help the perch population in the western basin rebuild and lead to quality yellow perch fishing over the next several years.
The 2016 walleye hatch was below average but is strong enough to help support the fishery. Last year’s hatch was the fourth highest on record, and those fish are still plentiful in the lake. Average to excellent hatches from four of the past 10 years have resulted in a broad range of walleye ages and sizes that make up the current Lake Erie walleye population. Results from Ohio’s surveys found 6.7 walleye per hectare. The average since 1988 is 27 walleye per hectare.
Initial reports from bottom trawl surveys conducted by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in Ontario waters of the western basin show similar results. To estimate the basin-wide hatch of walleye, Ohio and Ontario bottom trawl data are combined. The resulting basin-wide average catch for 2016 is 9 young-of-the-year walleye per hectare compared to the long-term average of 32 young-of-the-year walleye per hectare.
Information on the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, fishing reports, and maps and links to other Lake Erie web resources are available at wildohio.gov.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.
Information for this story was provided by ODNR.