Most of the walleye production in Lake Erie comes from its western basin. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and Ohio Department of Natural Resources produce joint surveys that assess the population through index netting surveys.
The latest young of the year (YOY) walleye catch was the ninth highest since assessment began 34 years ago. The yearling catch was the fifth highest on record.
“The high number of juvenile walleye in 2022 continues a multiyear streak of high numbers of juvenile walleye in the west basin of Lake Erie,” MNRF Biologist Michael Thorn said.
Lakewide, assessments looking at YOY and older walleye found the population was sixth highest in the last 33 years.
Thorn noted that the fish are growing slower than seen recently.
“In 2022, the length of YOY and yearling walleye was well below the average for the 34-year time series. We have not seen any major negative impacts on survival from the slower growth, but the MNRF is monitoring the situation closely with our partners in Lake Erie.”
Erie perch problems
The situation with yellow perch isn’t as clear cut.
In the western basin, west of Point Pelee, catches of YOY and yearling perch were seventh highest in the 34-year assessment history. Another assessment was even better, giving numbers that were sixth highest. Thorn said these high numbers are a continuation of a trend that started in 2014.
Perch aren’t doing as well in the central basin — from Point Pelee to the base of Long Point. The east and west central basin units have yielded the lowest numbers of YOY perch in the eight years since assessment started there. An assessment of yearling and older perch, which has been going 33 years, found the fourth lowest numbers in the west central basin and third lowest in the east central basin.
The news is better in the eastern basin. Long Point Bay YOY counts were below average but assessment of yearling and older perch across the basin was the fourth highest in 34 years of assessment. Overall, Thorn rated the perch population as “very good” in the east basin.