CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -If you’re an angler on Lake Erie, you’ve been pulling in walleye and perch by the bunches over the past couple of years.
After sampling the walleye hatch in the western basin the huge numbers look like the will continue for the next few years.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) said the walleye samples in August were the second-highest in the history of the survey.
The samples of the perch hatch were also extremely strong, well above the average sample.
“The Division of Wildlife’s 2019 August walleye hatch index was 143,” according to a news release from ODNR. “This is the second-highest value on record for Ohio’s waters of the western basin and far above the 20-year index average of 27. This year’s outstanding hatch combined with the excellent 2015 and 2018 year-classes will ensure an abundance of young walleye to complement the older and larger fish that make up the current Lake Erie walleye population.”
The samples are done using trawls, or large nets designed to scoop up the walleye and perch that would have hatched earlier this spring.
“When all of our western basin surveys were tallied up, the final average was about 76 little walleye in the area of a football field,” according to Matt Wolfe, a Fisheries Biologist with ODNR. “That doesn’t seem like a lot, but let’s remember, we are not talking just FirstEnergy Stadium. Lake Erie is huge and this number tells us that the hatch in Lake Erie this year was amazing!”
In the coming weeks similar surveys will be done in the central and eastern basins, but as past surveys have shown when the numbers are good in the west, it’s usually good in the entire lake.
“Anglers can expect better fishing next year with the 2018 fish reaching their legal size limit of 15 inches,” Wolfe. “In 2021, when those 76 walleye per football field that we found are reaching legal sized? There’s really no words to describe how great it could be.”