Regional Reports-Midwest

Lake Erie

The rivers of Ontario, Michigan and Ohio that feed western Lake Erie are a walleye factory, producing over 90 percent of the estimated 25 million walleyes that call the lake home. But as good as the fishing is, it's a far cry from the 100 million walleyes that lived in the lake only 10 years ago. In an effort to end the decline, allowed. Ontario commercial fishermen took 70 percent of the 5.1 million walleyes harvested in Lake Erie last year. Now the Ontario government has agreed to slice that quota by a whopping 50 percent. That still means that Ontario's commercial fishermen will take the largest share of the fishery, but the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources says it expects the cut will put many commercial fishermen out of business and onto unemployment (walleye fishing is a seasonal occupation for most of them). The new limits for sport-fishermen and commercial fishermen will stay in place for three years, giving biologists a chance to examine the effects of the cutbacks. While many anglers believe the walleye decline is a direct result of commercial fishing, some sportsmen and biologists aren't convinced, pointing to dramatic changes in water clarity caused by zebra mussels as well as a huge increase in the population of steelhead. The angler groups are also pressing Ontario to end commercial gill-netting for perch, which sport-fishermen say kills a lot of juvenile walleyes. Contact: Michigan Department of Natural Resources (517-373-9900); Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (800-667-1940; 416-314-2000).