WOLLITZ | ODNR predicts good fishing ahead for popular Lake Erie species.


A news release from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources affirms that Lake Erie anglers can expect a great year of fishing for all of the popular species.

Rich Carter, executive administrator of fish management and research for ODNR Division of Wildlife, and ODNR Director Jim Zehringer announced this week that excellent fishing is forecast for walleye, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, steelhead trout, white bass, panfish, northern pike and muskies.

They have the numbers to support their forecasts. They are based on field research that includes population estimates and annual hatch success rates.

Fishing for walleyes, the big daddy for Lake Erie anglers, will be exceptional this year, thanks to outstanding hatches in 2014 and 2015. Anglers can expect to encounter many walleyes from year classes dating back to 2009 along with a fair number of fish hatched in 2003 and now measuring 28 inches and more.

With a lot of fish from the successful 2015 hatches available this year, Erie walleye anglers can expect to catch a few sub-15-inchers. Anglers are reminded Erie walleyes less than 15 inches long must be released immediately.

The daily walleye possession limit is four through April 30. Quota allocations set by representatives of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Ontario set the possession limit at six walleyes daily from May 1 through Feb. 28, 2018.

Yellow perch, easy to catch and tasty on the table, will be readily available this year on Erie waters, especially in the western basin. Central basin anglers will find average numbers, with most of the perch coming from the 2012 year class and some from the 2014 hatch.

The daily bag limit for perch is 30 with no minimum length regulation.

Fishing for hard-fighting smallmouth bass is expected to be on par with recent years.

Smallmouths love the hard-bottom areas near and off shore, leaving the harbors and marshes to exceptional numbers of largemouth bass. Areas with vegetation, brush and wood cover are likely largemouth hangouts.

All bass – smallies and largemouths – are protected from harvest May 1 through June 23 and must be released immediately. Starting June 24, the daily bag limit is five and minimum length is 14 inches.

Steelhead trout fishing will be great in 2017, says the Division of Wildlife. Summer fishing typically is good for anglers trolling spoons in deep water between Vermilion and Conneaut. In the fall, the steelies move toward shore and up into harbors and rivers.

Trout anglers are limited to five Erie fish May 16 through Aug. 31. The bag limit drops to two fish between Sept. 1 and May 15, 2018. Size limit is 12 inches throughout the year.

White bass show up in exceptional numbers throughout the summer on the open lake and are accessible for harbor anglers in spring. They migrate into major streams in the spring to spawn. Adult fish gang up around the harbor walls as they return to the main lake.

White bass are under no bag or size limits.

Panfish, pike and muskies also are doing very well in Lake Erie, according to the Division of Wildlife. Anglers can expect to catch them in the harbors, rivermouth areas and marshes in habitat similar to that which is used by largemouth bass.

Thanks to good management by Ohio and other states that border Lake Erie, the forecast is great news for anglers of all species. The fish are there, so we have no excuse if we come up short in this year’s Erie trips.

jack.wollitz@innismaggiore.com

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