Most folks who fish Lake Erie are not looking for a state record. With the major motivation for anglers being the filling of freezers, most won’t be disappointed. The 2014 hatch was exceptional — nothing approaching 2003, but way above average nonetheless. Those fish became legal (15 inches) last year. Indications are the 2015 hatch was even larger. Those fish should be 15 inches by fall.
Hartman said the huge fish will likely migrate toward the deeper, colder water of the central basin when the weather warms up, but that will leave big numbers of the smaller, but legal, fish in the western basin.
Perch: According to Hartman, there have been four better-than-average yellow perch hatches (2013-14-15 and 16) in the western basin. That means — like the walleyes — perch fishing will be outstanding this year and years to come.
“The best perch fishing right now is around the islands,” he said.
The 2014 fish will likely be 8 inches and longer this year. Most perch fishermen will take that. In a few years there will likely be plenty of them around still, only they’ll be jumbos by then, 12 inches or larger.
Bass: At one time, when you talked about bass on Lake Erie, it was a smallmouth discussion. Smallies are still going strong, especially around the islands and reefs, but largemouth bass have been coming on all up and down the shoreline.
“It’s not just smallmouth, now it’s a bass fishery,” Hartman said. “On a day when the wind is blowing out of the south, you can put your boat in at Mazurik (boat ramp near Lakeside) and catch largemouth all day.”
He said smallmouth bass have rebounded in recent years, thanks to a closed season on keeping bass from May 1 through June that was put in place several years ago.
Algae: Conditions on Lake Erie can change, pending the severity of a year's toxic algae bloom. A wet spring could increase runoff, putting more phosphorus in the lake, feeding the algae and deteriorating conditions.