Perch stocking to lure anglers

By Lance Mihm

June 14, 2014

ST. MARYS — Amidst bad news on concerns of an algae problem again at Grand Lake St. Marys just three weeks ago, lake officials received a piece of good news May 29 when the Ohio Division of Wildlife released 100,000 yellow perch into the lake to attract anglers.

It was the third year ODNR has proceeded with the program in an effort to give fishermen another attractive species to travel to the lake to catch.

“We had a good perch population at the lake at one point,” said Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Brian Miller. “In the summer and fall, you would get a lot of people coming to fish for perch. We haven’t seen that in a couple of years. This gives us another species to enhance tourism.”

The stocked perch were 1.5- to 2-inch long fish called fingerlings. Normally it takes perch about three years to reach the desired 6- to 8-inch size as “keepers.” ODNR has released 308,000 perch over the last three years. It is exected that many of the fish released in 2012 will now be large enough for anglers to keep.

ODNR reported the goal of the program is to establish a self-sustaining yellow perch fishery at Grand Lake St. Marys by creating a naturally reproducing population. This would eliminate the need for stocking in the future.

The stocking will add to a list of species known for good fishing at Grand Lake St. Marys, which includes bass, catfish, crappie and bluegill.

Anglers should be aware that several species of fish in the lake are listed as unsafe to eat with regularity. The suggestions vary between one or two meals per week to one per month. This is unrelated to the toxic blue-green algae that has caused problems at the lake since 2009.

“There have been several tests on species the last several years,” Miller said. “The algae toxins have not impacted the fillets of fish caught, and they have not impacted the fish intake recommendations.”

A “do not eat” fish consumption advisory for Grand Lake St. Marys was briefly put on fish in the lake in 2010, but the advisory was removed after an analysis showed no microcystin in fish from samples collected in the lake. Check the Ohio EPA’s website for consumption recommendations.