Article Posted: October 07, 2003

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Fisheries biologists say this year's hatch appears to be strongest
recorded since the mid-1980s

COLUMBUS, OH - The 2003 walleye and yellow perch hatches in the
western and central basins of Lake Erie look very promising and could be the
strongest in more than a decade, according to fisheries biologists with the
Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
"The young walleye and yellow perch caught in our survey nets give
every indication that anglers can anticipate outstanding recreational
fishing opportunities in the next several years," said Jeff Tyson, fisheries
biologist supervisor at the division's Sandusky Fisheries Research Unit.
After poor walleye hatches in 2000 and 2002, the 2003 walleye hatch
appears to be the strongest recorded since the mid-1980s, when Lake Erie
emerged as a world-class fishery. Fisheries biologists believe this year's
strong hatch, combined with continuing cautious walleye harvest reductions
seen in recent years, should counter poor recent hatches. This will boost
the fishable population of walleye in several years throughout Lake Erie.
The annual Lake Erie yellow perch survey conducted in August also
revealed high catches of young yellow perch. The surveys were conducted from
Toledo to Conneaut and north to the Ontario line.
"This year's survey numbers of yellow perch were similar to the
exceptional hatch surveyed in 1996," said Tyson. "That year, the number of
young yellow perch caught in the survey translated into approximately 140
million two-year old fish lakewide in 1998."
"While preliminary estimates of the 2003 hatch for walleye and
yellow perch are encouraging, anglers should remember that many variables
can impact the fish before they are large enough to harvest," said Tyson.
"Young fish are susceptible to harsh winters, inadequate food sources, the
effects of invasive species, and other factors that can contribute to
premature mortality."
Lake Erie anglers, particularly those fishing for yellow perch, can
do their part to assist the walleye population by using correct handling
techniques when releasing juvenile walleye. Removing hooks quickly and
minimizing handling time can help juvenile walleyes survive to spawning

Source: ODNR

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