Lake Erie lives up to walleye reputation

By Al Smith - Guest Columnist

If you want to catch walleye, Ohio’s portion of Lake Erie has long been the best pace to fish for this prized-eating game fish.

Ohio’s portion of Lake Erie is the epicenter of the world’s largest population of walleye, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW). Port Clinton has long been dubbed the “Walleye Capital of the World.”

The walleye harvest rate by Lake Erie walleye anglers is phenomenal. According to the DOW, a harvest rate of 0.15 per hour regionally is considered exceptional. In 2019, the fish per hour was 0.83, which set a record on the lake.

June historically has been the best month. During June of 2019, anglers had a harvest rate of 1.13 per hour.

The wildlife agency says anglers likely will be catching walleye from the 2014-18 year classes. Those catches should average between 15-25 inches.

They also likely will be catching several fish in the 2018-19 year classes that will be undersized. The DOW asks anglers to release these fish with as little handling as possible so they can be caught again when they become legal size.

The walleye bag limit on Lake Erie is six fish per angler with a 15-inch minimum size length.

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Ohioans who have not purchased a fishing license have the opportunity to fish for free in Ohio during the Father’s Day weekend (June 20-21).

Those considering fishing in Michigan are allowed to fish the free fishing days there on June 13-14. Michigan is among the few states which allows out-of-staters to fish for free on that special weekend.

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The final final tally for wild turkeys taken this spring in Ohio was 17,891, which was more than 1,000 less than 2019’s total of 19,168.

The season concluded last Sunday, May 31, in the Northeast Zone, which included Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull counties. South zone hunting ended May 17.

Young hunters harvested 1,843 wild turkeys during Ohio’s youth season April 18-19. The youth season results are included in the final harvest total.

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Wildlife violations could be avoided if people would make sure they had proper licenses and permits and followed regulations.

In one incident involving a local wildlife officer, a teen learned he should have heeded a verbal warning.

Logan County Wildlife Officer Adam Smith noticed an angler fishing from a golf cart that was backed up to the edge at Indian Lake. The angler was 17 and did not have a fishing license or a valid driver’s license to operate a golf cart on state property.

After Smith contacted the teen’s guardian, making him aware of the incident, it was decided the incident would be handled with a verbal warning after it was determined the guardian would pick up the golf cart.

As the teen walked away, Smith continued contacting anglers around the lake.

Once Smith was gone, the teen got back on the golf cart and wound up backing it into the lake. Natural Resources Officer Mike Roeger responded to the area to assist and a local tow company retrieved the golf cart from the lake.

This time the teen was cited for operating a vehicle without a valid driver’s license and failure to control. He still received a verbal warning for fishing without a license.

Two other incidents involved fishing and hunting without a license or proper permits.

Mercer County Wildlife Officer Brad Buening noticed an angler fishing and catching sunfish along the shore of Grand Lake St. Marys. When Buening asked to see the individual’s fishing license, he did not have one.

The man received a summons for fishing without a license. He was subsequently found guilty in the Celina Municipal Court and was ordered to pay $175 in fines and court costs.

Jeremy Payne, a state wildlife investigator was working in Van Wert County during the 2019 deer-gun season after several calls were received about individuals hunting from the road.

Payne observed four men walking back to their vehicle while responding to a call. He noticed only two in the group were wearing the required hunter orange. Upon contacting them, Payne learned the two were nonresident hunters. They advised they had left their vests back in the woods since they planned to return later in the day.

Payne learned the pair did not have valid deer permits. Both hunters were charged with hunting without deer permits and paid a waiver through court.

The last incident comes under do not litter.

Auglaize County Wildlife Officer Mark Schemmel was patrolling the Auglaize River looking for hunters during the deer-gun season. While doing so, he found an individual fishing in the river and him drinking from a can. The wildlife officer noticed discarded cans crushed along the bank.

After the individual finished drinking the contents of a can, Schemmel saw him throw it onto the pile. The individual left from the area without removing the cans.

Officer Schemmel contacted the individual and issued a summons for stream litter. The individual pleaded guilty in the Auglaize County Municipal Court and paid $181.20 in fines and court costs.

By Al Smith

Guest Columnist

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

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

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