May Day Fishing Report 2015

Lake Erie perch Report

After two winters with record cold temperatures, its hard to believe that Lake Erie yellow perch could see a declining population from short, warm winters.

But this is exactly what Dr. Stuart A. Ludsins research shows.

Ludsin is the Ohio State University associate professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology; and his study found that cold water is more favorable to reproduction among yellow perch, and warm water temperatures produce small larvae that are less likely to grow and survive.

Ludsin originally noticed a connection between water temperatures and fish reproductions 15 years ago while working on his dissertation. He says that this study explains why yellow perch has been fluctuating over the last 30 years.

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Although weather over the last two years has been on the perchs side, Ludsin explains that climate models suggest differently. Climate, he says, shows a long-term picture of what has been happening with temperatures, whereas weather gives us a snapshot, and is to blame for our random freezing temperatures in the middle of spring.

Cold winters is not abnormal, even in a warming climate, he said.

Those climate models are showing an overall decrease in the length of winter weather and smaller ice caps on Lake Erie.

The Lake Erie Yellow Perch Task Groups March 23 report shows that there has been a 9.4 percent decrease in the total allowable catch since 2013, meaning the Lake Erie fisheries have decreased the amount commercial nets and recreational anglers are allowed to catch. Size of fish and the number of new fish are factors in deciding the total allowable catch, Ludsin explained.

This is a sign that not everything is perfect, Ludsin said.

Lake Erie Fish Management Program Administrator Jeff Tyson said that Ludsins study sheds light on the impact climate has on perch production.

The probability of cold winters in the future is something we need to consider, he said.

Another factor affecting yellow perch reproduction is discharge from rivers, an element that protects the larvae from predators like white perch.

Right now, its not clear how the discharge will affect the perch this year because of lack of rain in April and May, Ludsin said.

Ludsin also suggests that decreases in yellow perch could have an affect on local economies.

Brennans Fish House in Grand River is known for serving fresh fish from Lake Erie. Owner Sharon Hill said that this year was the first time she squeaked through the Lenten season with her perch supply, although she is not sure if Ludsins findings play a role in that.

This year, for the first time in nine years since Ive had the restaurant, I struggled to get through Lent, she said.

She said she hasnt had any trouble acquiring perch since May.

Similary, Steve Tarnosky owner of Steves Bait Shop in Fairport Harbor, said perch were down at the beginning of the year due to all the rain Northeast Ohio saw.

Now that the weather is settling down, they are starting to turn back on, Tarnosky said.

Although Lake Erie yellow perch are not in any immediate danger, Ludsin says we may lose legacies that could be fished for years to come.

If you have a series of consistently poor hatches, not only will it be poor for the economy, but will lead to a decrease in the population. After two winters with record cold temperatures, its hard to believe that Lake Erie yellow perch could see a declining population from short, warm winters.

But this is exactly what Dr. Stuart A. Ludsins research shows.

Ludsin is the Ohio State University associate professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology; and his study found that cold water is more favorable to reproduction among yellow perch, and warm water temperatures produce small larvae that are less likely to grow and survive.

Ludsin originally noticed a connection between water temperatures and fish reproductions 15 years ago while working on his dissertation. He says that this study explains why yellow perch has been fluctuating over the last 30 years.

Source: www.news-herald.com
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