Fishing Report Leamington Wheatley May 27 2012
Things are picking up steam here on the North shore of Lake Erie. There are reports of walleye being taken in the Leamington area in the typical early season locations such as I reported last year at this time.
Fishermen have also begun to prospect the water out of the Wheatley area. There have been a couple of rainbow trout boated already. It seems to me that the season for guys like me that like to fish these waters is starting to set up very nicely.
Smallmouth fishermen start early in U.S. waters
This year we’ve had reports of 50 or 60 smallmouths in a single hole,” he said. “But it’s a short season, and only in the bigger creeks. They’re in for [a few weeks] when it’s really good. They’re coming into the creeks to spawn, and when it gets too warm they’ll go back out to the lake.”
Unlike steelhead trout, which are hatchery raised and stocked in Erie County streams at anglers’ expense, the smallmouths are native to Lake Erie. Most spawn in shallow nests called redds cleared in warm shoreline areas. No one knows why, but a small subset of Lake Erie smallmouths runs up the larger tributaries to spawn.
“Actually, those are probably a unique spawning population separate from the larger population, which spawns in the lake,” said Chuck Murray, Lake Erie fisheries biologist for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. “There may be some unique morphological features, but they’d be very subtle. It would be interesting to take DNA samples. If they’ve been reproductively isolated, that would be how you would end up with subspecies.”
The spawn is triggered by increased hours of sunlight and water temperatures cresting in the 60s. Murray said the creek-running bass could be following a homing instinct to return to their natal waters, or responding to the warmer spring water temperatures at the mouths of larger creeks. This year, he said, early spring temperatures may have lengthened the duration of the smallmouth runs.
Unlike long-haul steelheads, which travel hundreds of miles throughout the lake for years before returning to spawn, the smallmouth bass is a near-shore species. The creek-run fish probably spend most of their lives in nearby portions of the lake.
Some largemouth bass are caught in the warmer shallow waters of Presque Isle Bay, but Lake Erie is famous for its smallmouths.
“Some of the best fishing comes this time of year through the beginning of July in 6 to 20 feet of water,” said Murray. “Some of the best habitat for smallmouths is from [Erie] to the New York state line.”
While there are no ethical impediments to catching fish on a spawning run, he said, picking them off a redd is different.
Ohio closes its Lake Erie bass season during the spawn. In Pennsylvania it’s illegal to intentionally harvest bedding bass (in most waters catch-and-release only April 14-June 15; on Lake Erie and tribs minimum size 20 inches, daily limit one, between those dates).
An Ohio State University study of predation on Lake Erie smallmouth nests, conducted 1999-2001 near the Bass Islands off Put-in Bay, Ohio, found that when nest-guarding male bass are temporarily removed in catch-and-release angling conditions, round gobys can literally eat all of the eggs or fry.
“We quantified how many smallmouth bass offspring were consumed by round goby when nest-guarding smallmouth bass males were present, removed and recovering from angling-related stress,” the study reported. “… For an average smallmouth bass nest in the Bass Islands, round goby could consume all offspring from an unguarded nest in about 15 minutes.”…More at Smallmouth bass crowd several Erie County streams on spawning runs that date … – Pittsburgh Post Gazette