Article Posted: January 22, 207

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Strong contributions from the 2003 hatches of walleye and yellow perch should provide excellent fishing opportunities

COLUMBUS, OH - Lake Erie anglers should enjoy another year of exceptional fishing during 2007, according to biologists with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

“Lake Erie remains one of the greatest natural resources in our country,” said Roger Knight, Lake Erie fisheries program manager at ODNR. “Where else but Lake Erie can an angler find such a diversity of fish species and sizes? We anticipate excellent fishing opportunities once again this year for walleye and yellow perch, as well as strong fisheries for other species like smallmouth bass, white bass and steelhead.”

Knight noted that anglers should have access to good fishing in the Western and Central basins due to the numerous public boat ramps, private marinas and shoreline areas. The large number of charter boats on the Ohio shore is also a fishing asset.

Ohio walleye anglers can expect to catch fish mostly from the 2003 hatch, with continued contributions from 1999 and 2001 hatches. Walleye from the 2003 hatch will be 19 to 22 inches long, while fish from the earlier hatches will range from 21 to 27 inches over the course of the fishing season. Large walleye from strong hatches in the 1980s and mid- 1990s still persist in the population, providing “Fish Ohio” trophy (more than 28 inches) opportunities.

“The walleye fishery in 2006 was the best we have had in many years, with superb fishing across all of Ohio’s Lake Erie waters,” said Knight. “Weather permitting, we expect to have another year of excellent walleye fishing, dominated by that strong 2003 hatch.”

The daily bag limit remains four fish per person during March and April, and six fish from May through February 2008. The 15-inch minimum size limit is in effect during the entire season.

Yellow Perch
Perch anglers should encounter very good numbers of 8 to 11-inch fish from the 2003 hatch this year. A strong 2001 hatch will continue to provide some 10 to13-inch jumbo perch, with Central Basin fish running larger than those in the Western Basin.

“We expect to see better perch fishing than a year ago, with catches dominated by the 2003 hatch,” said Knight. The daily bag limit remains at 40 fish per angler during the 2007 season, with no minimum size limit.

Smallmouth Bass
Smallmouth bass fishing is expected to be good in 2007, with contributions from hatches in the 1990s, 2001 and 2003. Fish should range in size from 14 to 21 inches and weighing 1.5 to 5 pounds. Bass fishing is best around areas with bottom structure, which is available across much of the entire Ohio near-shore area. ODNR biologists have seen several good hatches in recent years, which should contribute to good smallmouth bass fishing in the future.

A closed season remains in effect from May 1 through June 29, during which all black bass (smallmouth and largemouth) must be immediately released. Beginning June 30, the daily bag limit will remain at five fish, with a 14-inch minimum length limit.

Steelhead anglers should enjoy another year of great fishing in Ohio’s Lake Erie tributaries throughout the fall, winter and spring months. Good fishing opportunities will also exist on the open lake, when schools of fish can be located. Peak steelhead action on Lake Erie can be found offshore from June through August between Vermilion and Conneaut, with catches measuring 17 to 29 inches.

Most Lake Erie anglers trolling for steelhead in deep waters use spoons with dipsy divers or downriggers. The daily bag limit remains at five fish per person from May 16 to August 31 and two fish between September 1 and May 15, with a 12-inch minimum size limit throughout the year.

White Bass
White bass will continue to offer seasonal fishing opportunities in both tributaries and the open lake. The catch will include many 10 to 15-inch fish from the 2005 and 2003 hatches. Anglers should focus on major Western Basin tributaries during May and June and near-shore areas of the open lake during summer months. There is no daily bag or size limit on white bass.

Anglers are also advised of numerous fishing opportunities in the bays and harbors on the Ohio shoreline. These inlets offer excellent fishing for panfish, including crappie and bluegill, as well as largemouth bass. In early spring, anglers may also catch an occasional northern pike or muskellunge in vegetated areas.

Anglers are reminded that fishing conditions on Lake Erie can change hourly and adjustments are often necessary to improve success. Anglers should take into account such factors as water temperature, cloud cover, water clarity, boat traffic, wave action, structure and the amount of baitfish in the area. Anglers are also reminded to carefully monitor Lake Erie weather and to seek safe harbor before storms approach.

During the season, ODNR provides an updated Lake Erie fishing report online at ohiodnr.com/wildlife and by calling 1-888-HOOKFISH. Division of Wildlife staff members are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at Fairport Harbor (440-352-4199) for Central Basin information and at Sandusky (419-625-8062) for Western Basin information. For additional information on lodging, charter boat services and local launch ramps, contact one of the following lakeshore visitor’s bureaus:

Ashtabula County Convention & Visitors Bureau 800-337-6746
Lake County Visitors Bureau 800-368-5253
Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland 800-321-1001
Lorain County Visitors Bureau 800-334-1673
Sandusky/Erie County Visitors Bureau 800-255-8070
Ottawa County Visitors Bureau 800-441-1271
Greater Toledo Convention & Visitors Bureau 800-243-4667
Ohio Division of Travel & Tourism 800-BUCKEYE

Information on the Division of Wildlife’s Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, open lake and steelhead fishing reports, as well as maps and links to other Lake Erie web resources is available on the Internet at ohiodnr.com/wildlife/fishing/fairport/index.htm .

Source: ODNR

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