Head to Lake Erie for good walleye opportunities


If you are looking for good eating size walleye and the likelihood of getting a limit, Lake Erie is a suggested destination, especially in June.

June rates the best month for walleye in the lake with July and August also producing bountiful catches.

Outstanding fishing is expected to continue this year following record success by anglers in 2018. Walleye were harvested at the highest rates in nearly 40 years in 2018, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW). The wildlife agency said anglers caught and kept a walleye for every 75 minutes of fishing. And more than 40 percent of walleye trips produced a limit for anglers.

Expect catches of 19-21-inch fish, long noted as excellent eating-size fish. They likely will be 4-5-year-old fish. Some in that age range will be as large as 26 inches.

“Walleye anglers can expect fishing that rivals a boom that began in 2006 and lasted several years following the exceptional 2003 hatch,” said Scott Hale, administrator of fisheries management for the Division of Wildlife. “The recent procession of good hatches points to an outstanding decade that has just begun.”

The DOW claims 45 million walleye 2-years-old and older will be in Lake Erie waters this year. The projected population of that age walleye in 2020 will exceed 120 million, thanks primarily to excellent walleye hatches between 2014-18.

“If you have ever thought about going out fishing on Lake Erie, now is the time,” said Captain Paul Pacholski, president of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association. “With the recent walleye hatches we have had the past few years, fishing has been incredible.”

The DOW reminds anglers to release undersized fish (plenty in the 9-14-inch range from 2017-18 hatches are being caught) carefully so they can be caught in the future as legal size fish. There is a 15-inch minimum length limit on walleyes. The daily walleye limit is 6 fish.

Updated Lake Erie fishing reports are available at wildohio.gov or by calling 888-HOOKFISH (888-466-5347). Information is available from Division of Wildlife staff from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays at the Fairport Harbor station (440-352-4199) for the central basin and at the Sandusky station (419-625-8062) for the western basin. Information about the Division of Wildlife’s Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, fishing reports, maps and links to other web resources are available at wildohio.gov.

Walleye fishing has been excellent and really heated up in late May, according to the DOW. Most of the fish being caught are 19-23 inches. Quick limits have been reported from Port Clinton to Lorain with hot spots being around the bass islands and the Marblehead Peninsula.

Fish have been caught mostly by Trolling spoons and harnesses has been the best method for catching walleyes, but many anglers have been successful casting and drifting with harnesses. Anglers have been reporting a wide range of depths, with 15-45 feet of water all being successful. Anglers near Locust and Toussaint reefs are reporting depths from 15-25 feet being best. Best colors are shades of gold, green and purple.

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When U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced from Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge a proposal for new or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities at 74 national wildlife refuges and 15 national fish hatcheries managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), he was at a refuge in Ohio that long has allowed hunting.

Both public and permit hunting opportunities are offered on the 6,500 acres of wetland, grassland, and wooded habitat located off Ohio 2 between Oak Harbor and Port Clinton.

Public hunting for waterfowl and deer is available at the Metzger Marsh Unit of the refuge. Other areas are open to public hunting for small game, upland birds, migratory birds, and turkey. Waterfowl and deer permit hunts are managed in partnership with the Ohio DOW. Hunters must apply for permit hunts through the DOW process each year.

The U.S. FWS and DOW have partnered in the establishment of a controlled waterfowl hunt on the refuge. Controlled waterfowl hunting is allowed on the refuge in designated areas by permit only. Controlled hunt applications were mention in last week’s column.

Each fall the refuge and several partners hosts a youth waterfowl hunting workshop. Participants age 17 and younger will spend the afternoon rotating through different stations learning about waterfowl hunting, in late afternoon participants will be able to participate in a special hunt.

Archery, youth gun and adult gun hunts are offered on the refuge.

Any questions not answered here can be directed toward the federal wildlife officers of the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge by contacting us at 419-898-0014 or by email at ottawa@fws.gov.

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Nominations are being accepted through Aug. 2 for the Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame via the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Printed and online forms will be accepted.

The form along with selection criteria is available at ohiodnr.gov/HallOfFame. Printed forms may be mailed to ODNR communications, 2045 Morse Road, Building D-3, Columbus, Ohio 43229.

The award was created in 1966 and since then more than 160 Ohioans have been honored. Among them are John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed), explorer John Wesley Powell and farming conservation advocate Bob Evans.

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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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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