A recommendation to increase the daily limit of walleye to six during the spring spawning season in 2020 stood out among fish and game proposals announced last week by the wildlife division.
For many years, the walleye limit from Lake Erie and its tributaries has been four between March 1 and April 30, and six the rest of the year. The four-fish limit was in place to help conserve spawning fish because walleye numbers had fallen after a spike during the 1980s that petered out by the 2000s.
Much of the Lake Erie spawn takes place on and around the reefs of the shallow western basin. A good number of walleyes swim upstream to spawn in the Sandusky and Maumee rivers. Those fish are accessible to wading anglers, who in the past gathered from near and far each spring to line the river banks for a chance at large, tasty walleyes.
Recently, especially during years without significant ice, an increasing number of fishermen in boats has been getting out on the frigid water to take walleye from the reef spawning areas, reduced limit or not.
Given a run of solid walleye hatches in recent years, the wildlife division deemed it OK if waders and boaters take six spawning fish each day.
The regulation would go into effect when Ohio’s annual allotment of walleye under an agreement with Canada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York totals at least 3 million. Ohio’s allotment in 2018 was 3.634 million.
After a near-record Lake Erie walleye hatch in 2018, the allotment is not likely to dip below 3 million in the foreseeable future.
The four-fish limit will be maintained on the Sandusky River, where wildlife division biologists hope to revive a formerly robust spawn that has been reduced to a trickle by human-caused problems.
The eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council will vote on the proposal, likely in April, after a series of public hearings.
Originally posted by Dave Golowenski for The Columbus Dispatch on Jan 12, 2019.