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Lake Erie Open Lake Angler Survey Update – May 2022

Warm weather and calm winds surely contributed to an increase in angling activity on Lake Erie during the month of May. Total angler effort in May 2022 was 53,000 angler hours which is well above the 20-year average (40,250 angler hours). A large majority of May anglers (70%) targeted walleye or smallmouth bass.

Walleye: Daytime walleye angling effort in May has become more popular on Lake Erie in recent years, with 19,400 angler hours spent (average = 7,195 angler hours). Although May effort is typically low compared to the summer months, this was the highest targeted walleye effort for the month of May in the last 20 years, with most walleye anglers fishing out of Buffalo (75%). Anglers targeting walleye harvested 2 fish per boat trip on average, with a catch rate of 0.23 fish per hour, the 3rd highest May catch rate for walleye in the last 20 years, behind only 2019 and 2020. About 2% of daytime walleye anglers achieved a 6 fish limit this May with an average size of 20.3 inches.

Smallmouth Bass: Smallmouth bass fishing is very popular in the New York waters of Lake Erie during the month of May, with many anglers focusing inside and outside of the harbors in Dunkirk (28%) and Buffalo (58%). This May was no exception, with anglers spending over 17,500 hours targeting smallmouth bass. However, the May bass fishing quality was below average in 2022, with anglers targeting bass catching an average of 15 bass per boat trip with a catch rate of 1.11 fish per hour, the 4th lowest May catch rate for smallmouth bass in the last 20 years (May average = 1.48 fish per hour).

Yellow Perch: Yellow perch angling effort was up significantly from the previous two years, with 12,600 angler hours spent targeting yellow perch in May (average = 9,645 angler hours). Yellow perch fishing was steady with the majority of perch anglers focusing their efforts off from Cattaraugus Creek (82%). Anglers targeting yellow perch were rewarded with an average of 18 perch harvested per boat trip and a catch rate of 1.59 fish per hour, the 9th highest May catch rate in the last 20 years (May average = 1.65 fish per hour). About 2.5% of yellow perch anglers achieved a 50 fish limit with an average size of 11.4 inches.

Lake Erie Fisheries Research and Management

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