A declining population of Lake Erie’s popular yellow perch in the Central Basin has prompted a drastic reduction in the daily limit from 30 yellow perch to just 10 yellow perch from Huron to Fairport Harbor beginning on Saturday, May 1. The lower daily bag limit was mandated by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch fisheries are managed through an interagency quota system between U.S. and Canadian partners in Ohio, Ontario, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Each jurisdiction regulates its catches to comply with annually determined safe harvest levels that ensure sustainability.
The most recent quotas were announced at the Lake Erie Committee’s virtual annual meetings on Friday, March 26.
“Low yellow perch hatches in recent years have caused the daily limit to be reduced to 10 from Huron to Fairport Harbor,” said Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker. “Science-based management shows us that we have to act quickly to ensure that the yellow perch population has time to improve in select areas of the central basin.”
Low abundance from Huron to Fairport Harbor led to a very conservative quota for yellow perch fishing from May 1 to Feb. 28. Central basin yellow perch hatches have been well below average and strong year classes are needed to rebuild the population to prior abundances. The daily limit is 30 yellow perch until Friday, April 30.
Yellow perch abundance in the western basin has provided limit opportunities seasonally in 2020 and remains strong in 2021. Ohio’s daily limits will remain at 30 in the western basin from Toledo to Huron and farther east from Fairport Harbor to Conneaut.
Walleye hatch success has been exceptional for five of the past seven years, setting up a bright future for the Walleye Capital of the World. The walleye
daily limit on Lake Erie is 6 fish per angler with a 15-inch minimum length limit.
Walleye anglers will mostly catch abundant 2-, 3-, 6-, and 7-year-old fish that should range from 15 inches to as large as 28 inches. Abundant young fish from 2019 and 2020 hatches will show up in the catch and range from 9 to 14 inches, with an increasing number of 2-year-olds reaching 15 inches as the season progresses.
Anglers are encouraged to release these sub-legal walleye with as little handling as possible so they can contribute to the future fishery.
Smallmouth bass and largemouth bass fishing in 2021 should provide good fishing and trophy catches. The daily limit is five bass per day with a 14-inch minimum size limit through April 30, and then again from June 26 to April 30, 2022. Anglers may harvest one bass per day, with a minimum size limit of 18 inches from May 1 to June 25 during the spawning season.