Captain’s log

The 2018 Lake Erie fishing season was one of the best ever. Most of my customers caught their limits of 36 walleyes. Often, it was by noon after starting the day at 7 a.m. Sometimes we ended at our limit and sometimes we kept on fishing for yellow perch and smallmouth bass. That’s an option open to my customers who limit early. Now, for some really good news for 2019. It may well be better walleye fishing than in 2018. I’m not exaggerating! We still caught quite a few 13-15 inchers over the summer. We threw those under-sized fish back, but this coming spring those same walleyes will be keepers, and that translates to strong action going into the future. And speaking of the future, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife, Lake Erie was flooded with tens of million more small walleye from the spring 2018 hatch. In fact, biologists declared it one of the largest ever recorded. Here’s what the DOW said: “Each year in August, wildlife agencies from around the western basin of Lake Erie sample the waters using bottom trawls in search of young-of-the-year walleye and yellow perch, with biologists from the ODNR Division of Wildlife conducting bottom trawls at nearly 40 sampling locations. “Data from these bottom trawl surveys are combined into a basin-wide index, and fisheries biologists compare the figures to previous years to estimate the success of the walleye and yellow perch hatches. These data provide biologists with an initial estimate of how many young fish will enter the fishable population two years later. “The ODNR Division of Wildlife’s 2018 August trawl survey found 112 walleye per hectare. This is the second highest value on record and far above the 20-year average of 27 walleye per hectare in Ohio waters of the western basin. This year’s outstanding hatch combined with the excellent 2015 year-class will ensure an abundance of young walleye to complement the older and larger fish that make up the current Lake Erie walleye population. “The ODNR Division of Wildlife’s August western basin trawl survey found the 2018 yellow perch hatch to be very good at 511 yellow perch per hectare. This is above the 20-year average of 316 yellow perch per hectare in Ohio waters of the western basin. This above average yellow perch hatch should help bolster the yellow perch population in the western basin and maintain quality yellow perch fishing. “Initial reports from bottom trawl surveys conducted by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in Ontario waters of the western basin showed similar results, with walleye catches well above average and strong yellow perch catches. During the upcoming months, Ohio and Ontario bottom trawl data will be combined to estimate the basin-wide hatches of walleye and yellow perch. These estimates will be used in the process to determine jurisdictional quotas. “Central basin trawl surveys in July and August are usually impacted by low oxygen conditions that cause young-of-the-year fish to school or concentrate in nearshore areas. Estimates for the central basin will be available from the September trawl surveys after the data have been collected and analyzed.” With numbers like these, it’s no wonder the early spring jigging action has been good around Vermilion to Huron, my home waters, for the last few years after big hatches in 2013 and again in 2015. I start jigging and perch trips in early April. It looks like a fantastic summer of walleye action is on tap in 2019. While walleye is king, yellow perch is a very close second. April, May and June is always a good time for perch so keep that in mind. Customers have caught numerous smallmouth bass while casting for walleyes during the spring. Most of them have been in the four-pound range. I have plenty of open dates as we head into the main part of winter but fishermen are starting to call already. Most customers shoot for weekends and it won’t take long for them to disappear so book early to get the dates you want. Remember, I supply bait, ice and tackle including rods and reels, for all my charters. So don’t worry if you feel you don’t have the right gear for a Lake Erie fishing charter. I’ve got you covered. Also new for ‘19 is my rate structure. I now offer five rates based on how long you want to fish. The rates are broken down hourly: 8 hours, seven hours, six, five and four-hour days. See my rates page for details. Call me at 440-365-9932 or 440-610-1932
Capt. Tony Denslow with a fresh caught Lake Erie walleye Capt. Tony Denslow  snags a walleye for himself. Early season walleye fishing usually produces a smallie or two
Mega Bites Charters
At Vermilion, Ohio