Wall to walleye in Lake Erie dust off your fishing gear box based on DEC studies
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Looking for some great summer fishing? Well, look no more. Walleye fishing on Lake Erie is prime, and anglers go from all about to test their abilities. For people who recall the poor walleye fishing of years back, I say, try again. The Lake Erie fishery is back and better than ever. However do not take my word for it. Simply ask any walleye angler. In case you would like to have more real evidence, request the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) which has been tracking the fishery for a long time. They will support that recent angler catch rates now equal the maximum measured in the last 20 years.
The higher catch rates are indicative of Lake Erie’s big walleye population which numbers in the millions. As well as the eastern basin of Lake Erie, along the New York coastline, is well-known for its trophy-size (8- to 10-pound) fish. The truth is, many anglers participating in the numerous tournaments at Lake Erie get creature walleye that weigh 11 pounds or more.
In springtime walleye favour the shallow, fertile waters in Lake Erie’s west basin as spawning grounds. But come summer, they seek the deeper waters located off New York’s coastline. Here they locate the cooler water temperatures they need, in addition to the food they should flourish. With an average depth of 80 feet, the eastern waters off the ports of Dunkirk and Barcelona support a summer offshore fishery that’s nothing short of stunning.
While fishing could be striking now, historically, Lake Erie’s fishery has found its share of difficulties. The unbelievable fishing appreciated in the late 1980s, when shops sold out of anything that will get an offshore walleye, gave way to a serious drop in the 1990s. A lot of the drop was attributed on the debut of the zebra mussel and other invasive species that changed the natural surroundings. The random introduction of zebra and quagga mussels in the late 1980s and early 1990s noticeably raised the lake’s water clarity, significantly impacting native organisms. Walleye populations fluctuated and fell for several years as they adapted to the new environs, and for a time, the fishing tanked. A couple of years afterwards, however, things started to turn around. In 2006, DEC studies revealed that walleye amounts had rallied to equal the high amounts of the 1980s.
This rebound was largely helped through an especial spawning year in 2003. Actually, the considerable 2003 year-class, whose people now range between 22 and 24 inches in length, is still a big section of the Lake Erie fishery and ought to continue to support quality fishing. Additionally, concerted measures by the U.S. and Canada, including establishing standardised fishing limits and size constraints, led to the rebound. Recent research suggests that spawning success is upward, particularly in the east end of the lake.
While examining the fishery, biologists learned that although most of Lake Erie’s walleye population spawns in the shallow, warm, western basin, some also spawn in the eastern basin. Work ran on lake reefs and rivers have substantiated the existence of spawning fish, an encouraging indication of the fishery’s current and future good health.
No matter the reason behind the fishery’s extraordinary restoration, it can not be denied that now’s fishing on Lake Erie is stunning. And in the event that you’ve never fished for walleye, you do not understand what you are missing! Walleye are great fun to get and taste yummy. Actually, many anglers will claim that of all of the state’s freshwater fish species, walleye make the most effective meal.
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Fishing for walleye means finding in a boat and heading offshore. Even though some anglers may get an occasional walleye from coast during the months of July, August and September, the actual action is outside on the lake.
Understanding where fish live and what they eat will enhance an angler’s capability to find and capture them. Walleye favor the deep water sections of big lakes, streams, and rivers. They have big, light sensitive eyes for eating in poor light. To shield their eyes from sunlight, walleye remain in sheltered or deep water during the day and go into shallower water during the night. They can be voracious predators and use their big teeth to get many different minnows and young of other fishes. In Lake Erie, smelt or shiners in many cases are a favourite meal.
During June and July, walleye happen in schools in Lake Erie’s eastern basin. They can be regularly seen close to the lake’s bottom, in comparatively shallow (from 40 to 52 feet deep) water. As summer progresses and the water heats, they go into deeper waters, following forage schools of emerald shiners and rainbow smelt. One hot spot for catching them at this time is Lake Erie off Buffalo from the Departure Buoy (two miles southwest of the Buffalo Harbour North Gap) to the Seneca Shoal Buoy near Hamburg. Come July and early August, the large walleye move to deeper and cooler waters west of Sturgeon Point. Most are 10-30 feet off the bottom in 70-90 feet of water, near the descending thermocline (where the water temperature changes quickly). Another walleye hot spot is off the Buffalo reefs and shoals at the head of the Niagara River.
Most anglers that start from Sturgeon Point, Dunkirk, or the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek will concur this in midsummer heat, the greatest amount of schooled walleye will probably be no less than six or seven miles out, particularly in the offshore region straight out from Evangola Beach. The suspended fish can normally be seen in a two-to-three square mile region.
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Every angler has their particular secret for success. Take expert 76-year old Cheektowaga angler Dick Sokolowski who got his limit of walleye running a straightforward downrigger line and one Dipsy Diver diving plane. He credits his success to fishing the downrigger 75 feet back and 10 feet off the underside, and deploying the diving plane 95 feet back. Soko (pronounced “Sock O”), as his friends call him, chooses an old time standby spinner/worm rig which uses a clear stainless steel primary line, a willow leaf blade, watermelon colour beads and duplicate tape colours. He personalises his setup with just one thin stripe of orange-colour tape on the backside of the blade, and says it makes a significant difference on some days. If this seems technical, it can be, however do not stress, beginners can hire a licensed guide who will teach you everything you need to understand.
Like many anglers, Sokolowski blows off the arthritis that restricts his motions and finger dexterity. “Fishing makes me get out as well as forget my pains,” says Sokolowski. “It gets my blood going and I feel like I am about 35 years old when I get on the water. That is the reason why I wanna fish!”
Like Soko, I think it is an excellent time to be walleye fishing on Lake Erie.
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