Article Posted: April 24, 2001

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SANDUSKY, OHIO - Spring walleye fishing on Ohio's big lake is off and
running, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of
Wildlife. Lake Erie charter captains and private boat anglers have been
reporting many limit catches when wind and wave conditions are right.
Pro anglers competing in the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Circuit tournament
headquartered in Port Clinton earlier this month proved that big walleye are
still the lake's claim to fame. The winning anglers turned in five walleye
that totaled 40 pounds, 12 ounces -- a whopping 8.024-pound average per
fish. The overall average weight per fish for the 3-day event was 7 pounds.
"This is one of the greatest Great Lakes fisheries and undoubtedly the best
walleye fishery in the nation," said Sonny Reynolds of Operation Walleye and
tournament director.
"We want to dispel any rumors that Lake Erie's walleye population is
depleted," said Mike Costello, Fish Management and Research supervisor for
Lake Erie programs. "Numbers are down from high levels in the late 1980s,
and so the Great Lakes states and Ontario bordering the lake have committed
to conservative management tactics to increase the walleye population. Lake
Erie's walleye fishery is alive and well and this joint management approach
will ensure it will remain the best walleye lake in the country."
Anglers should see a boost in the walleye catch this year as walleyes from
an excellent hatch in 1999 (now 14 to 16 inches in length) enter the
fishery. These young fish should come off the winter season with large
appetites and be feeding heavily from mid- to late May through June.
Anglers will also see plenty of fish from an excellent hatch in 1996 now in
the 18- to 22-inch range, as well as many older, trophy-size walleye that
remain in the population. The current state record walleye was caught off
Cleveland in November 1999 and weighed 16.19 pounds.
The key is finding clean water in between periods of high winds,
which are common across the lake this time of year. Anglers are trolling
crankbaits, vertically jigging with jigs tipped with minnows, and working
worm harnesses tipped with night crawlers. Most walleye catches are in the
18-24-inch range. Most recent catches have been reported on Maumee Bay,
from Maumee Bay to the Davis Besse Power Plant, the reef complex off Port
Clinton, and between Kelleys Island and Middle Island. Electronic devices
are especially helpful in locating fish.
Fishing should continue to improve as temperatures increase. The
upcoming weekend forecast calls for temperatures in the 70s with sunny skies
and moderate winds.
Anglers should note changes in the walleye bag limit effective this
year as part of management efforts to increase the walleye population. The
daily bag limit for walleye on Lake Erie and its tributaries is four from
March 1 through April 30 and six the reminder of the year.
Despite the low water level trend on Lake Erie, all state fishing
access facilities across the lakeshore are open and fully operational.
Anglers should follow navigational charts closely. Anglers are reminded to
wear a life jacket, use extra caution, and guard against hypothermia during
this early season fishery.

Source: ODNR

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