January! Already! Happy New Year everyone! We are fast approaching the half way mark in the fishing offseason. And as fast as we got here, the rest of the winter will slip away as well and we’ll be once again back in the water enjoying yet another fishing season. Year number 32 for me chartering and we’re still going strong! I would briefly like to take a look back at the year that just was and the season to come in 2018. 2017 was a real surprise for everyone. After dealing with a exceptional amount of undersize Walleyes in 2016 which were all 2 year olds at the time meaning that they were hatched in 2014, we all looked forward to 2017 thinking it was going to be easy pickings of nice legal sized fish. And it may have happened had we not been overrun with an even larger hatch of 2 year old fish apparently hatched in 2015. In fact this hatch dwarfed the 2014 hatch and really anything that anybody has ever witnessed out on Erie over the many years. Just massive! You just could not get away from these younger fish! We had days where it was non stop catching and mostly releasing just about as fast as we could go from start of the day to the end. It wasn’t till late in the year where a lot of these fish started making it above the legal minimum size that we were able to catch our breath and start boxing more then we threw back. The fish that started to make the grade this past fall should all be really nice keeper sized eaters this year. Those along with that 2014 class and the real old fish that are always out there in some numbers, well it should be just incredible fishing. I am very excited about how good the fishing should be for everyone this this year and I can hardly wait!
For as promising as the fishing looks for the Walleyes in 2018, things look equally as grim for the Yellow Perch again this year. Last fall for everyone in the central basin the Perch fishing was all but non existent. Nobody knows for sure what happened but they were just not there. I do not see things getting any better any time soon. For this reason, in 2018 I AM NOT booking any “Perch only” trips. In September we will be booking “Perch/Walleye trips” and it will be depending on what is available and what is biting best that determines what we fish for. Captains discretion! We are not going to sit at anchor catching nothing when we could be catching a bunch of Walleyes! If the situation changes for the better, we’ll try for Perch again but I’m telling everyone right now that more then likely we will be just fishing for Walleyes again through out this fall and normal Walleye rates will apply. For that reason in 2018 we are also limiting our Perch party size to a maximum of 4 people to be in line with our Walleye party size. That way should we be forced to choose that we fish for Walleyes at the last second there is no confusion or conflict on rates. No matter what we fish for now, it will be 4 PEOPLE MAXIMUM! That is all I choose to run anymore anyway and after 32 years, I can be choosy! 4 people is the ultimate personal and comfortable group size for all involved and the easiest group size for most folks to put together.
My charter rates have always been “subject to change” in mid season and for any reason. In 31 years I have never made a mid season rate change. We are going to attempt to hold the line on our Walleye rates once again in 2018. We have not raised our Walleye rates for 4 man charters in 7 years now and we are the cheapest boat at River Marine, the charter hub where I am docked. HOWEVER, because of the very plentiful Walleye population out in the lake right now, there is a chance that they MAY raise the limits on Walleyes in 2018. We will not know that for sure till either March 1st when the new fishing licenses come out or June 1st when the TAC (total allowable catch) is announced by joint commissions from both the Canadian and US Dept. of Natural Resources. That is when the official decision is made as to how many tons of fish both the commercial and sport fisherman can take out from the lake. Most likely there will be no changes. HOWEVER if the sport fishing Walleye limit goes up any at all, that will automatically trigger a $50 dollar increase in my Walleye rates also. It would be the right time. That would only bring me up to what everyone else at my marina charges right now anyway. Till now I have always depended on your very generous tips to keep our rates the very lowest. Thank you! So that’s about it. We’re only about 3 short months away from going fishing. The Walleye fishing should be FABULOUS this summer and there are really no big changes planned on my part. As always, now is the time to confirm your trips or make any changes that need to be made. 2018. Bring it on!