Prognosis great for fishing Lake Erie’s western basin


Al Smith - Guest Columnist



After applying the three Ps - patience, persistence and perseverance - to fishing earlier this spring, it’s time to catch fish a bit more regularity since the weather has finally become more springlike.

In the past several days, catching has become better while fishing. This angler enjoyed a pleasant and successful outing earlier this week seeking panfish. Nice hand-sized bluegills were among the catch. They were enticed on a black/orange wet fly combination tipped with a spike. I fished it on a 10-foot ultralight rod under a small bobber. I let the winds move it at times, but also did my share of twitching. The spunky fight of these feisty panfish made 90 minutes go by quickly.

Taking a trip to the Lake Erie area the next day made me think of the quality fish anglers should have for the tastiest fish in the lake - walleye and yellow perch - this year.

The prognosis is great for anglers who will fish the western basin this year. There are millions of quality fish in the lake.

Locals along the lake prefer yellow perch for taste and the only freshwater fish I can think of that is tastier than perch are white fish. The Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) says there are excellent numbers and size of yellow perch in the lake.

Outstanding perch fishing that occurred in the fall of 2017 should continue into 2018. A good range of sizes are available with many fish coming from the 2014 and ‘15 year classes along with the 2013 and older year classes. The yellow perch daily bag limit will be 30 from May 1 through April 30, 2019, with no minimum size limit.

Walleye anglers should encounter plenty of eating size fish (15-24 inches) from the 2014 and ‘15 year classes. Fish from the 2014 class accounted for a little more than half the 1.3 million walleye harvested in 2017. Those fish now are 16-24 inches. Big walleye from the 2010 through 2013 year classes are available. There also are trophy walleye from the 2003 and 2007 classes.

Many of the previously undersized walleye from the 2015 hatch will range from 15 to 20 inches during the 2018 season. Walleye from last year’s hatch will be undersized. The DOW

encourages anglers to release these fish with as little handling as possible so they can contribute to the fishery in the future.

As a result of the 2018 quota allocation, the daily bag limit will be six walleye from May 1 through Feb. 28, 2019. From March 1 through April 30, 2019, the daily walleye bag limit will be four. A 15-inch minimum size limit is in effect during the entire season for walleye.

Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch fisheries are managed through an interagency quota system that involves Ontario, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. Each jurisdiction regulates its catches to comply with annually determined safe harvest levels that minimize the risk of over-fishing these species. Quotas for the upcoming fishing season are determined through consensus agreement by these jurisdictions through the Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, which were just recently announced for 2018.

* * *

Limaland wild turkey hunters did not fare near as well as a year ago during the open week of the turkey season. Total numbers of turkeys checked in was down in all nine area counties and well below the numbers form a year ago.

A total of 224 turkeys were checked locally this year during opening week (April 23-29) while 285 turkeys were checked during the same period a year ago. Turkeys checked in the nine local counties with number from 2017 in parenthesis were: Allen 31 (36), Auglaize 18 (30), Hancock 14 (24), Hardin 39 (44), Logan 58 (69), Mercer11 (12), Putnam 26 (32), Shelby 18 (27) and Van Wert 9 (11).

Statewide hunters checked 10,415 wild turkeys during the first week while hunters harvested 10,293 during the first week of the 2017 season.

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The Lake La Su An Wildlife Area opened for fishing Friday and will remain open on Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from sunrise to sunset through Sept. 3.

Anglers are reminded that they will not need a reservation to fish the lakes on the La Su An Wildlife Area, but all vehicles must park in a designated parking space around the area.

Sunfish bag limits are 15 fish daily, with no more than five fish being 8 inches or larger. Largemouth bass have an 18 inch minimum length limit, with a five fish daily bag limit and channel catfish will have a two fish daily bag limit. Daily bag limits will be posted and are in effect area wide. This means that only one bag limit will be allowed each day regardless of how many lakes an angler fishes.

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Registration begins May 15 for the fifth annual Ohio Women’s Outdoor Adventures Weekend that runs Aug. 24-26 at Deer Creek State Park.

Paddling, powerboating and fishing are among the courses at this event aponsored by the

Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Parks and Watercraft. Participants at the special weekend learn how to improve their skills in paddling kayaks and canoes, operating powerboats or trying the latest watersport — stand-up paddleboarding. Other sessions will be offered on backyard wildlife, wild edibles, beginner’s golf, archery, horseback riding, trap shooting, stream quality monitoring, fishing clinics and a host of tours and other outdoor recreational options. Indoor activities include painting and water aerobics. A detailed listing of the weekend’s events is available by visiting watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/owoa.

The Ohio Women’s Outdoor Adventures Weekend is open to all women, including girls 12 years or older who are accompanied by a parent or guardian. The cost is $300 per person and includes lodging and five meals. There is room for 120 women to participate, and registration for this weekend fills up quickly.

Participants will stay at the Deer Creek State Park Lodge and Conference Center, located in Pickaway County. Guests have access to indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, whirlpool, exercise room, restaurant and lounge. Additionally, Deer Creek offers an 18-hole golf course, trails, disc golf, marina and a swimming beach.

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Al Smith

Guest Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at flyfishman7@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at flyfishman7@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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