Updated: 6:13 p.m. Saturday, June 9, 2012 | Posted: 6:12 p.m. Saturday, June 9, 2012
State stocks perch at Grand Lake St. Marys
By Jim Morris
In an attempt to improve fishing and perhaps draw more people to the area, the state has stocked 100,408 yellow perch into Grand Lake St. Marys.
The fingerlings — 1.5-2 inches long — didn’t have to travel far since they were raised in the St. Marys State Fish Hatchery at the east end of the lake.
It’s the first time since 1944 that yellow perch were stocked in the lake. It’s also the largest one-time stocking of yellow perch in the 13,500-acre lake.
Another unique aspect of the stocking is GLSM already has yellow perch. It is hoped some of the stocked fish will help revitalize that dwindling population.
Yellow perch have been caught at GLSM throughout most of its 171-year history, but for some reason perch fishing took off in the mid-1990s. Ice fishing that first year was particularly successful. In fact, people were joking that perhaps they should begin stocking Lake Erie with perch from St. Marys. The perch fishing was that good.
Unfortunately, it didn’t last. While perch are still being caught, especially over sandy or rocky areas, the numbers are not anywhere close to the boom years.
“We believe the stocking, in conjunction with improvements in water quality, may promote recovery of yellow perch fishing at Grand Lake St. Marys,” said Rich Carter, executive administrator of fish management and research with the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
“This is experimental,” Carter said. “We will continue to do this to see how it works out. The whole idea is to improve the fishery at Grand Lake St. Marys and we think adding these yellow perch is a step in the right direction.”
Mort Pugh, manager of the hatchery, said they have been raising yellow perch there for many years, but they all went to lakes in central Ohio. Early this year, the fish management team began talking about putting perch in the lake to supplement the existing perch population and improve the fishery.
“We wanted to make fishing better and decided yellow perch was the best tool we had,” Carter said.
They planned to mark the stocked fish with a chemical that would show up under a special light. That way, down the road, they could tell if a fish was from the stocking or was naturally produced in the lake. That idea was scrapped for this year, however, when the fish became stressed during the process.
Stocking took place May 23 at Behm’s landing.
Contact Jim Morris by email at sports@DaytonDailyNews.com.