Ohio anglers have reason to celebrate following the release of survey data collected on Lake Erie this season. The 2015 Lake Erie walleye hatch was one of the largest in recent history according to fisheries biologists with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), and should lead to excellent fishing in years to come. Results from combined Ontario and Ohio surveys show that the 2015 hatch index is the highest since 2003. The excellent hatch should start to show up as catchable fish in the next three years.
“With these hatch index results, we are expecting the walleye fishing in Lake Erie in the next three to five years to be exceptional,” said James Zehringer, ODNR Director. “This is outstanding news for Ohio anglers and out-of-state anglers who enjoy fishing on Lake Erie, the Walleye Capital of the World.”
To estimate the basin-wide hatch of walleye, ODNR and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry combine their bottom trawl survey data. The resulting basin-wide average catch for 2015 is 84 walleye from the spring hatch per hectare (about 2.5 acres), which is well above the long-term average of 32 per hectare.
The 2015 yellow perch hatch also appears to have been successful in both Ohio and Ontario waters of the western. This is the fifth-best yellow perch hatch in the western basin since the interagency survey began in 1987.
“Three good yellow perch hatches in a row should help the perch population in the western basin rebuild and lead to quality yellow perch fishing over the next couple of years,” said Jeff Tyson, head of Lake Erie Fisheries Program for the ODNR Division of Wildlife (ODOW).
Each year in August, wildlife agencies from around the western basin of Lake Erie sample the waters using bottom trawls in search of young of the year walleye and yellow perch. Data from these bottom trawls are combined into a basin-wide index and compared to previous years to estimate the success of the walleye and yellow perch hatches. This provides biologists with an estimate on how many young fish will enter the fishable population two years later.
Information on the ODOW’s Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, fishing reports, and maps and links to other Lake Erie Web resources are available at wildohio.gov.