By Joseph Fischer

Posted on Nov 7, 2023
Fall Fishing Report

I recently talked to Dr. Jason Robinson who heads up the Lake Erie Fisheries unit based in Dunkirk New York. We discussed at length the latest fall survey regarding the status of the warm water fishery in eastern Lake Erie. The preliminary results are as follows:

This fishery, as most of you know, is in excellent shape with an abundant population estimated at over 100 million walleyes in the lake. The good news is that should continue as there appears to be an abundance of walleye fingerlings in the lake! I asked Dr. Robinson whether there was enough bait to feed these voracious eaters he felt that there doesn’t seem to be a problem as their average growth rate and weight is very good with a 3-year-old walleye already legal size. Great news for all you Lake Erie walleye fishermen. The other thing that is different from the earlier super walleye fishery in the 1980’s is that the earlier walleye fishery was predominately a deep water nomadic school of fish that required a larger offshore boat and planer boards etc. to catch these walleyes. The walleyes now are fish that live in the Buffalo harbor area and are shallow water fish.

The Smallmouth Bass fishery is stable and probably one of the best bass fisheries in North America with bass exceeding 4 lbs. common and some topping 6 lbs. Bass will be the target of a study to ascertain whether the early season bass fishery has a negative effect on spawning. A study recently showed that if a bass is removed from its spawning bed only for a short time the nest is quickly predated by gobies, I will have more on this in the future.

The perch population in the Eastern basin of Lake Erie has been stable and continues to be in good shape now and projected to be so for the immediate future. This is great news. The western basin has seen a precipitous drop in perch recruitment in the last couple of years and at this time the reason has not been determined. There is a good population of mature perch (8-14”) in the lake now and as a DEC official told me recently “a great deal of these fish die of old age”. This fish is considered by many to be the best eating of all freshwater fish.

Joseph Fischer

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