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Fishery biologists predict good fishing this season

Lake Erie and its tributaries make up one of the most important sport fisheries in North America. Good fishermen know how to catch fish, but the best anglers have secret information.
Well, you might say the Division of Wildlife has let the “catfish out of the bag” by offering regularly updated fishing reports at www.wildohio.com or by calling 888-HOOKFISH (888-466-5347). Information is also available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at 440-352-4199 for the Central Basin and 419-625-8062 for the Western Basin.
“While fishing success always varies among species and seasons, we expect that anglers will find success on the waters of Lake Erie this year,” said Jeff Tyson, Lake Erie fisheries program manager.
“The lake’s population of walleye, yellow perch, black bass, white bass and steelhead remains stable, with a very broad distribution of sizes for each species.”
Fisheries biologists, or “fish-squeezers,” as insiders like to call them, offer these Lake Erie angling prognostications.
• Walleye: Expect to catch fish from the 2010, 2009, 2007 and 2003 hatches, with some fish from the 2011, 2008 and 2012 classes.
Walleye from the 2012 hatch will be present in the fishery with most near or over the 15-inch limit. The 2003 and 2007 hatches will carry the Central Basin fisheries and will be in the 26-inch range.
The daily limit is four until April 30, but, from May 1 to Feb. 28, it increases to six. A 15-inch size limit is enforced.
• Yellow perch: Good fishing is expected with the largest fish in the eastern areas of the Central Basin, where the population flourished during the 2013 season. Expect fish from seven to 13 inches from the 2012 through 2007 hatches.
The daily bag limit is 30 with no size restrictions.
• Black bass: Smallmouth fishing should be fair but improving. Catch rates in 2013 were slightly below those seen in 2012, but were still some of the highest since the mid-1990s.
Netted smallmouth should run 14 to 22 inches, weighing up to six pounds. The best fishing will occur in areas with good bottom structure along the entire nearshore and islands areas.
Largemouth fishing should be excellent. This emerging fishery is producing high catch rates and some large fish in nearshore areas and harbors across the Lake Erie shoreline.
From May 1 through June 27, all black bass must be immediately released. Beginning June 28, the daily combined limit is five, with a 14-inch minimum length.
• Steelhead: Expect another great year with peak summer action offshore from June through August between Vermilion and Conneaut, with catches measuring 17 to 29 inches. Many anglers troll deep waters using spoons with dipsy divers or downriggers until fish move close to shore in the fall.
The daily bag limit remains five fish from May 16 through Aug. 31, and two fish between Sept. 1 and May 15, 2015. There’s a 12-inch size limit.
• White Bass: White bass provide excellent seasonal fishing in the Maumee and Sandusky rivers and in the open lake. Focus on major Western Basin tributaries during May and June and nearshore areas of the open lake during the summer. There’s no bag or size limit.
Along the Way:
Ohio’s spring turkey hunting season opened Monday.
Wild turkeys have benefited from good spring weather in 2012 and 2013, and Ohio has experienced two above-average hatch years. This should result in many 2-year-old toms (males) and jakes (1-year-old males) in the woods.
Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon from April 21-May 4. The May 5-18 hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
Step Outside:
• Tomorrow: IDPA Shoot, registration begins at 9 a.m. UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• Thursday-Friday: Trap and skeet, opens 5 p.m. UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard, OH 45867-0413 or via email at jimsfieldnotes@aol.com.

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