HARRISBURG, Pa. (April 26) – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) today announced that the 2019 creel limit for Lake Erie yellow perch will remain at 30 per day and the creel limit for walleye will stay at six per day.
"The 2018 assessment showed that both yellow perch and walleye populations remain at or above maintenance management levels," said Chuck Murray, PFBC Lake Erie Biologist. "Based on these findings, the 2019 creel limits for yellow perch and walleye are being maintained at their standard daily harvest limits."
At its March 29 meeting, the Lake Erie Committee allotted to Pennsylvania a yellow perch total allowable catch (TAC) of 576,000 pounds, an 8% decrease from 2018, but 5% above the long-term average of 550,000 pounds. The 2019 level includes a yellow perch TAC for the commercial trap net fishery of 100,000 pounds.
Since 1996, the average harvest of yellow perch by Pennsylvania's combined recreational (133,000 lbs.) and commercial fisheries (13,000 lbs.) has been 148,500 pounds. Yellow perch abundance has declined in the last few years, but good recruitment from the 2016- and 2017-year classes should improve fishing in the coming years.
Walleye should provide exceptional fishing in 2019. The 2015 (age 4) year class is estimated to represent 46% of the population and should contribute significantly to the harvest. Record harvest rates were attained by anglers in 2018, and harvest rates are expected to be well above average in 2019 as well.
The PFBC adopted a regulation in 2012 which established an adaptive management approach to establishing creel limits for walleye and yellow perch based on the annual quotas established by the Lake Erie Committee, which consists of fisheries managers from Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Michigan and Ontario, Canada.
Under the regulation, the PFBC sets daily creel limits for these species by April 15 each year.
"Adaptive fishing regulations are based on the most recent fishery assessment results and are better aligned with the current status of the yellow perch and walleye stocks," Murray added. "This regulatory flexibility gave fisheries managers the ability to change daily harvest limits, if warranted, prior to the onset of the summer boat fishing season on Lake Erie."