The Southtowns Walleye Association of Western New York, located in Hamburg, had Don Einhouse as the guest speaker for its monthly meeting. Einhouse is a warm water species biologist for the Department of Environmental Conservation and is the senior biologist at the Lake Erie Fisheries unit located at Point Drive in Dunkirk. Einhouse has been doing his job for a number of years, and despite his many duties and titles with the DEC, he finds time to conduct seminars with fishermen. When Don talks, people listen.
According to Einhouse the DEC has been conducting a long-term monitoring program to chart the progress or regress of several of the most popular fish species in Lake Erie, including walleye and yellow perch.
With the aid of slides Einhouse showed the audience the rise and decline of walleye and yellow perch since the 1980s. Two tools that the DEC uses to gather information to determine their data is the angler survey, which is usually conducted by the creel census personnel, and survey netting conducted by the DEC fisheries staff.
OBSERVER Photos by Gene Pauszek
Department of Environmental Conservation biologist Don Einhouse was the guest speaker at the Southtowns Walleye Association meeting on Thursday.
The angler surveys started in 1988 where anglers were interviewed at boat launches and fish cleaning stations. Last year the majority of this data was taken from Barcelona and the Buffalo Small Boat harbor. Over the years, millions of angler hours have been processed and the results show boat fishing is down over the last several years.
In the 1980s there was three times the amount of walleye fishing boats that we now have. However, last year was the second-highest perch fishing effort on record. The DEC data reveals 46 percent of the boat fishery targets walleye followed by 21 percent targeting yellow perch and 20 percent seeking bass, with the rest targeting other species.
This past summer anglers did really good in their number of fish per hour spent on the lake. June and July were very productive for anglers fishing out of the Small Boat Harbor area in Buffalo. Anglers recorded taking hundreds of thousands of walleye in the late 1980s, while anglers recorded taking about 36,000 walleye last year. That figure is very good when you factor in that there is only one third of the amount of anglers now.
In general, the outlook for the perch and walleye population is good for the next year or so . There was a good walleye hatch in 2012, which will contribute a lot of 18-inch fish to the fishery this year. Those big fish of 20 to 28 inches were probably from the 2003 hatch. When the DEC does their sampling they can age fish and 22-year-old walleye still are being caught.
Yellow perch catch rate is also monitored. In 1988 the state experienced the highest catch rate ever. Then, with the advent of the zebra mussels, the population tanked, but has since been on the rise with 2013 showing the second highest perch fish effort ever.
That is with a 13 million pound harvest from the commercial fishery competing with the same fishery. The 2010 perch hatch was good, the 2011 and '12 hatch not so good, but indications are the 2014 hatch should also be good. When there is a lot of ice cover, the hatches are usually good. For 2014, anglers should see good numbers of 12-13 inch walleye early in June. Release them carefully as by August or September those fish should be keeper size.
Einhouse then fielded a number of questions from the audience, which I do not have column space to cover right now, but will attempt later on. Don and his team have more data to process for a better overview of the fish population and anglers can visit their web site to get a better picture later in March by visiting www.glf.org/lakecom/lec/
The "Con Club" annual Chicken Barbecue fundraiser for the "Take-A-Kid-Fishing program will be today. Tickets are still available at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club.
Attention: The Pistol Course scheduled at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club on March 15 will be held from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. There are still openings to take this course, which will cost $55. For more information, call Gary Dudek at 366-3397.
The Northern Chautauqua Chapter of Ducks Unlimited annual banquet is scheduled for Saturday, March 15 at the Dunkirk Moose Lodge, located at 296 Lake Shore Drive West. Pre-sale tickets are $45 or $70 per couple. This event will feature a live and silent auction as well as other raffles throughout the evening. Early Bird entries by March 7 will enter automatically in a raffle for a limited edition piece of DU artwork. For more information, including tickets, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Steve at 410-4848, Chris McKelvey at 672-2498, Scott Sinare at 410-9531, Darrin Katta at 785-0713 or Will Mead at 785-3741.
The Monday night Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club Fly Tyers will meet Monday at 6 p.m., weather permitting. The event is open to the public and free of charge.
There will be a Hunter Education Class (gun) at the Ellery Rod & Gun Club on Friday, March 21 from 5 until 9 p.m. returning on Saturday March 22 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Students must attend both days for certification. Class is limited to the first 20 students. To pre-register call Rob Graham at 413-6230 or email email@example.com. Students should dress for the weather and a lunch will be provided on Saturday.
Raw fur pickup schedule: North American Fur Auctions location is Lucky Lanes bowling alley on Route 60, in Fredonia. Time is 4:30 p.m., on March 9 and April 28. The agent is Ernest Mosher and he can be reached by calling 315-868-6275. Note: The fur must be put up and dried. No green pelts will be accepted. First auction dates are Feb. 17-23.
Fur Harvesters Auction pick-ups will be at the old Tops Market parking lot off I -90. Time of the pickup is 6-6:30 a.m. Pick-up date will be, March 23. The agent is Toby Edwards. He can be contacted by calling 518-848-0217. Only dried pelts will be accepted. Dates are March 13 and March 14.
If your club is hosting a shooting event, or training course (turkey shoot, etc.), drop a line and I will be glad to place an announcement in the calendar.
Gun Shows: The Sportsman's Show at the Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel, which is located off I-86 at Exit 20, 777 Seneca Allegany Blvd., Salamanca, will be Feb. 23. Call 569-6810 or log on to www.yorkpennshows.com.
There will be a Gun Show at the Frewsburg Firemans Rec. Hall located at 25 Hazzard St., Frewsburg on March 8 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and March 9 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.