Article Posted: July 12, 2001

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SANDUSKY, OH -- Lake Erie is maintaining its title as the Walleye
Capital of the World this summer with both the weather and the fish
cooperating. Local walleye anglers are touting this year as the best fishing
season in a decade, according to Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR)
Division of Wildlife.
"Overall, the walleye fishing has been very good this year,
beginning with some excellent ice fishing last winter and pre-spawn fishing
on the reefs and in Maumee Bay. Fishing in the western basin has really
heated up since mid-June, especially along the Toledo Shipping Channel,"
said Roger Knight, supervisor of ODNR's Lake Erie Fisheries Unit in
Sandusky. "Fishing success is affected by many factors and this year, many
of the right factors are coming together."
Disappointing walleye fishing for many Lake Erie anglers for the
past two summers was attributed to poor weather, an abundance of bait fish
in the lake and lack of a large spawning class entering the fishery. This
year, walleyes from an excellent spawn in 1999, now measuring 14 to 16
inches, are adding significantly to the fishery. Anglers are filling coolers
with a mixed bag of walleyes ranging in length from 14 to 30 inches.
Fishing from private boats, charter boats and "walk-on" charters
(larger boats that can accommodate up to 50 people) have all been
successful, with many reporting limit catches, often in just two or three
hours of fishing. The hot spots are concentrated west of the islands to the
Michigan state line.
"Lake Erie gained its national reputation throughout the 1980s due
largely to reef fishing in June and July. The lake was ideal walleye
habitat, with moderately turbid waters that allowed walleyes to be active
throughout the day. Moreover, record numbers of fish were present in the
walleye population. Yet, walleye fishing was generally over for most anglers
by mid-August." Knight said. "But since the 1980s, water clarity has
increased, walleye abundance has declined to a moderate level, and walleye
feeding behavior has changed. Walleye schools tend to be distributed in
patches and anglers often have to search for these schools to be
To compensate for these changes, walleye anglers have adopted new
tackle and fishing methods. Weight-forward spinners that were once the rage
of Lake Erie anglers are now just another lure in the walleye angler's
tackle box. Worm harnesses, mayfly rigs, small spoons, and crankbaits are
now equally popular baits.
"While casting is preferred by many anglers, our data clearly show
that trolling produces more fish per hour expended, probably because
trollers cover more water and are more likely to encounter an active school
of fish. Walleye anglers should not give up on late summer and fall fishing,
as we have observed high catch rates in late-August through October in
recent years."
Some of the recent hot spots include the area between the Toledo
Shipping Channel and the Michigan state line, West Sister Island area, south
of Middle Sister Island in Ohio waters, C and B Cans, the Reef Complex and
north of Niagara Reef.
The legal bag limit for walleyes on the Ohio waters of Lake Erie is
six from May through February, and four during March and April.
Most anglers are fishing for walleyes, but Lake Erie also provides
excellent fishing for yellow perch, smallmouth bass and white bass.
A fishing report is available by calling 1-888-HOOK FISH
(1-888-466-5347). Callers in the local Sandusky exchange should call
Despite the current trend in lower-than-average water levels on Lake
Erie, all ODNR fishing and boat access facilities are open and fully
operational at this time. However, boat anglers are reminded to follow
navigational charts.

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