Best Walleye Fishing in 30 Years! New York’s Eastern Lake Erie

  • 2017 Angler Survey Catch Rates are nearly THREE TIMES GREATER than 30-Year Average
  • Anglers Harvested More than 70,000 Walleye in 2017
  • Walleye Fishing Expected to Remain Exceptional for Years to Come
While fishing Lake Erie with Captain Dan Korzenski of Hooked-Up Sportfishing from Dunkirk Harbor, NY, Ted Kokur and his three buddies landed more than 20 walleye in a morning of fishing. Korzenski is a noted trolling expert with charter openings for 2018 (716-679-9320, dkkorzenski@hotmail.com).

Stickbaits, spinner/worm rigs and spoons fished in, or just above, the thermocline in summer last year, produced limits of walleye for anglers near and far.  The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that walleye fishing on Lake Erie during the 2017 season experienced the highest recorded success in nearly 30 years.

Captain Korzenski is a local professional charter captain and shares his fish-catching success methods with all of his clients on each trip, if they want to know how.  A good thing if you own a boat and want to come back and try walleye fishing with your own tackle.  The local stopover bait and tackle store for daily catch rate success is Bill’s Hooks (5139 W. Lake Rd., Dunkirk, NY; 716-366-0268), just a few miles south of the city of Dunkirk on Route 5.  Visit with Gerri Begier there and allow yourself to learn about hot lures, snaps, swivels, fluorocarbon, leadcore line, rods, reels and a dozen other things you never knew about walleye catching, lure making and finding fish if have the time.

Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “The New York State waters of Lake Erie are world famous for outstanding angling opportunities for walleye, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch,  Our Lake Erie waters have consistently ranked among the top three most heavily fished waters in the state and the fishery generates more than $26 million in economic activity annually.  Anglers should take advantage of Lake Erie’s current conditions and experience this world-class walleye fishery for themselves in 2018.”

DEC has conducted an angler survey on Lake Erie to estimate fishing quality and fish harvest annually since 1988.  In recent years, walleye fishing quality has been generally increasing.  Survey results for 2017 revealed record-high walleye catch rates that are nearly three times greater than the 30-year average.  DEC estimates that anglers harvested more than 70,000 walleyes in 2017, a level not achieved since 1989.

Walt Gaczewski of Elma, New York, 80 years young, full of smiles, has his hands full walleye fishing with charter captains from the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association (www.great-lakes.org/ny/elecba; 716-672-4282) last summer.  Steelhead, giant smallmouth bass, yellow perch and white bass are also secondary catches during Lake Erie walleye fishing outings off Chautauqua County, NY.

This exceptional fishing was due in large part to contributions of strong walleye reproduction in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2015.  Recent evidence also suggests that walleye reproduction was strong again in 2016.

Walleye are one of the most popular gamefish in New York, as they put up an exciting fight during the catch and make for a tasty meal on the table.  Walleye are aptly named because of their unique eyes that have a reflective layer of pigment called the tapetum lucidum, which allows them to see very well at night and during other low-light periods.  This layer also gives walleye their “glassy-eyed” or “wall-eyed” appearance.

Lake Erie is continually ranked among the world’s top walleye fishing destinations by angler publications with an abundance of trophy-size walleye ranging from 8-10 pounds, with local tournament winners often landing fish exceeding 11 pounds.

If you are looking to organize an office party outing, Captain Lance Ehrhardt from the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association (716-672-4282) can provide a listing of local charter captains that catch fish.  Erhardt prefers to keep the live bait worms on shore – he is a stickbait expert, but has clients reporting summer catches of more than 40 walleye a trip during hot summer outings.  Imagine that!

Given that walleye typically live 10 years or more in Lake Erie, combined with excellent reproduction rates in recent years, anglers should experience continued, exceptional walleye fishing in future years.

For the latest Lake Erie fishing hotline report updated weekly in summer, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9217.html.  For lodging and other information for vacation planning, wine country tours, microbrewery locations, campsites, boat launches and more, visit http://www.tourchautauqua.com/.

Boat speed, surface temperature, bottom temperature and frequent turns into “secret lake areas” where fish are found allow anglers to reap schooled walleye benefits.

 

A Day with the New DEC Region 9 Director at Walleye MECCA Destination – Dunkirk, NY

Julie Barrett O’Neill, the new Director for NYSDEC Region 9, is a hands-on manager that loves to share conversation about the outdoors.
  • Need a limit catch of Walleyes? Visit Dunkirk, NY, in Chautauqua County. 
  • NYSDEC Region 9 has a new hands-on Director that knows the ropes: Julie Barrett O’Neill

By Mike Joyner

One can easily state that any and all ports of access to Lake Erie lead to the walleye capital of the world. You would be correct, just as your fishing partners’ may counter declarations. Rather than debate the issue, I’ll lead us into the “declaration of Dunkirk” as a “must experience” port of launch and a favored choice to pursue a great fishing experience on Lake Erie. As reported in recent years by myself and legions of the outdoor media, the 2022 walleye season on Lake Erie is consistent with all the observations and claims as a “Walleye Mecca” of prior years. Yes, folks, it’s that good!

This year’s VIP Fish Day, held annually every August, would greet us with mixed clouds, moderate temperatures, and the calmest waters I have ever experienced on this Great Lake. This year’s event was coordinated by Jim and Diane Steel of the Innovative Outdoors team. A well-organized and super friendly event. Lots of familiar faces and many new ones. The event pairs Charter Captains with outdoor writers, local legislators, business leaders, and members of the NYSDEC Fisheries group. The group of outdoor writers present would hail from Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Rhode Island and New York.

As a fishing partner, I would be paired up with Julie Barrett O’Neill, the new Director for NYSDEC Region 9. We would join Captain Hans Mann of Buffalo Harbor Outfitters on his 21′ Warrior boat for a morning of outstanding fishing.

Captain Hans Mann of Buffalo Harbor Outfitters treats his guests with comfort and fish-catching aboard his 21′ Warrior boat. The city of Dunkirk is in the background.

Our trip out into the harbor was inspirational for all its beauty and the lake’s calmness. We would be heading out to 60′ – 90′ depths to troll for walleyes that had been, in recent days, hanging near the bottom. Just 30 minutes into setting up the lines, we were already into fish as we started our first trolling run. Although we ran a pattern of depths, those we had out deep with dipsy divers and worm spinner jigs made it happen. The fish-catching started off with Julie landing the first walleye. We both would catch our limit for the day and release others back to the lake. To this day, in my humble opinion, walleye is one of the best fish to eat and is a welcomed treat in our home.

The fishing was fantastic, and the conversation during our trip was even better! Julie comes into her new role as Region 9 Director with an impressive resume. She is as passionate about the resource as any of us. Julie is incredibly excited about the outlook for Lake Sturgeon, which is making significant progress in the North American conservation story. Having a Director that is hands-on and very comfortable with fishing tackle is a good thing for us sportsmen. As I have, you’ll find her very approachable, friendly and knowledgeable. I would also learn that Hans is just as passionate about fishing for muskies and very involved as a board member of the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association. I can tell you Hans runs an efficient setup and is directly dialed in on walleyes. I can easily envision how he takes his ‘A’ game to muskies. I found Hans to be a great boat captain and super friendly. They are genuinely great people to enjoy time out on the water with. We would discuss many topics concerning the fisheries, future development, and the current issues with proposed windmills. In a few hours on a beautiful morning, all the essential goals of the VIP event were being met on a 21′ boat. The future for Eastern Lake Erie has a bright future, in my view.

The event concluded with a great lunch at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club. As in the past, we got updates on issues concerning the lake, the latest research, and the fishery outlook.

The Dunkirk pier fish-cleaning station is crowded with everyday anglers taking fillets home for dinner. Ice and free fishing advice are available here, plus you can observe an assortment of fish cleaning tools and methods.

It is a beautiful format to promote not only the great fishery and recreational opportunities of the area but also puts the significant stakeholders together in the same room, the same boat, to further the communication needed for developing the resource. The event is fully supported by the following organizations: Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, Erie County Fisheries Advisory Board and the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association.

www.tourchautauqua.com

https://www3.erie.gov/environment/fisheries-advisory-board

www.easternlakeeriecharters.com

www.buffaloharboroutfitters.com

www.innovative-outdoors.com

-MJ
© 2022 Mike Joyner- Joyner Outdoor Media