August Trawl Confirms Walleye Hatch Rumors
Lake Erie walleye fishing Port Clinton, OH Sandusky, Ohio — Amid rumors that persisted all summer that the walleye had a hatch bigger than the monster 2003 hatch, the official results are in.
The DNR Division of Wildlife Lake Erie Research Station biologists had been seeing incredible numbers in their trawling sampling station since June, the OSU/Stone Laboratory classes have counted high numbers around the islands, and minnow dippers have seen higher than usual numbers of young-of-year walleyes in their seines across the entire lakeshore.
However, these encouraging early summer numbers can be deceiving, since high summer mortality can sometimes wipe out promising looking hatches before the August trawls are performed.
In August each year since 1987, Ohio Division of Wildlife Lake Erie fish biologists have been cooperating with their Ontario counterparts to sample approximately 80 stations, carefully matching their trawling equipment and techniques.
Their trawling results data are eventually combined to produce an interagency average (mean) that is used to project catchable walleye abundance two years into the future.
The numbers, as reported by Jeff Tyson, Lake Erie program administrator for the Division of Wildlife, show that the Western Basin walleye trawling catch rates were the fifth highest since the interagency trawling began.
Ontario’s official numbers will be released later in the year, he says, but Ohio’s August walleye trawling numbers for 2015 are approximately 61.4/hectare. A hectare (ha) is the metric measurement for area, equal to 2.47 acres.
Contrary to the rumors, it did not beat the 2003 hatch, which tallied 155.6/ha, but otherwise was surpassed only by the 83.3/ha tallied in 1996, 63.4/ha in 1994, and 111.0/ha in 1993. But, it beat the highly touted 1982 (52.6/ha) and 1986 (30.4/ha) results.
Furthermore, it is three times better than last year’s 19.6/ha caught in Ohio waters and two times as high as the interagency combined average of 30.8/ha.
Not only did walleyes do well, but the Western Basin yellow perch hatch recorded its third substantial hatch in a row, according to Tyson.
He said that the 2015 yellow perch number was 264.9/ha, complementing the 668.9/ha in 2014 and 398.7/ha in 2013. To put this good news into perspective, the counts in the previous three particularly lean years were only 74.5/ha in 2012, 29.9/ha in 2011, and 58.2/ha in 2010.
All these numbers pale in comparison to 2003, when the trawls produced 1,509.9 yellow perch/ha or 3,290.8/ha in 1996.
The Division of Wildlife’s “Ohio’s 2014 Lake Erie Fisheries Status Report” states that, “Average to above average reproduction in the Western Basin in 2013-2014 and in the Central Basin in 2012 and 2014 will contribute to stability and enhancement of the population of yellow perch over the next several years.”