New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that walleye fishing on Lake Erie during the 2017 season experienced the highest recorded success in nearly 30 years.
“The New York State waters of Lake Erie are world famous for outstanding angling opportunities for walleye, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Our Lake Erie waters have consistently ranked among the top three most heavily fished waters in the state, and the fishery generates more than $26 million in economic activity annually. Anglers should take advantage of Lake Erie’s current conditions and experience this world-class walleye fishery for themselves in 2018.”
DEC has conducted an angler survey on Lake Erie to estimate fishing quality and fish harvest annually since 1988. In recent years, walleye fishing quality has been generally increasing. Survey results for 2017 revealed record-high walleye catch rates that are nearly three times greater than the 30-year average. DEC estimates that anglers harvested more than 70,000 walleyes in 2017, a level not achieved since 1989.
This exceptional fishing was due in large part to contributions of strong walleye reproductive success in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2015. Recent evidence also suggests that walleye reproduction was strong again in 2016.
Walleye are one of the most popular gamefish in New York, as they put up an exciting fight during the catch and make for tasty meal on the table. Walleye are aptly named because of their unique eyes that have a reflective layer of pigment called the tapetum lucidum, which allows them to see very well at night and during other low-light periods. This layer also gives walleye their “glassy-eyed” or “wall-eyed” appearance.
Lake Erie is continually ranked among the world’s top walleye fishing destinations by angler publications, with an abundance of trophy-size walleye ranging from 8-10 lbs. and local tournament winners often scoring fish exceeding 11 lbs.
Given that walleye typically live 10 years or more in Lake Erie combined with excellent reproduction rates in recent years, anglers should experience continued, exceptional walleye fishing in future years.