Pickerel fishing better this year, good perch catches ‘hard to to come by’


Long-time Port Dover commercial fishermen report to The Maple Leaf that catches of pickerel have been better this year than last year. George Gibbons of Pleasant Port Fish Company confirms “a lot better than last year.”
So good in fact that he completed his 2019 pickerel quota with a heavy catch on Friday.

At left: Fishing tugs in the commercial basin at Port Dover harbour. This year’s fishing has been good. Photo by Earl Hartlen

Eric Ryerse, with 39 years experience, also reported the pickerel fishing, “was better than last year but the price was down” saying that is a normal in the market matching supply and demand.
Both fisheries were working in the area near the end of Long Point, about a four-hour run from the Port Dover harbour.
Mr. Gibbons stated “it was pretty hard to come by good catches of perch this year.”
He expects to have his perch quota completed by October. He is captain of his fishing tug ‘Eau Clipper’.
Pleasant Port Fish Company retail store in the East Commercial Basin is managed by Sherry Edwards with Chuck Mummery and Emily Edwards in the processing department. The store will be open afternoons on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays this autumn.
Mr. Ryerse, captain of his James D tug, reported a similar summary of the 2019 perch catch. He commented that it “had not been very good in the spring” with light catches. Later, when perch became more plentiful in the cold water it improved but as the lake warmed the catches became light again.
He observed that, “just a few degrees in water temperature makes all the difference in the world.” He stated it is a cyclical thing that fishermen accept. His catches go directly to a processing plant.
Mr. Ryerse noted that he tried smelt fishing in the spring “but didn’t do anything” in the way of catches. He said, “smelt fishing last year was bad but this year has been worse.”
The James D tug operated this year with Eric Ryerse at the helm and a three-man crew.
Paulette Penton, a Fisheries Ecology Supervisor with Ontario’s Lake Erie Management Unit, also reported that the smelt harvest is down. She reported that commercial fishers fishing out of Port Dover have five gillnet boats fishing pickerel (walleye) and perch and six trawl boats. Their harvest to July 31st for Walleye is 93,191 lbs; Perch 143,863 lbs; and Smelt 833,703 lbs.
There are 621 commercial fishing licences province-wide with 206 on Lake Erie and 11 that are fished from Port Dover (although these boats can and some do move to other ports throughout the year).
Ms Penton says “temperature and other environmental factors, such as dissolved oxygen, can influence hatching success, distribution of fish and quality of the catch. Warmer waters require shorter net sets to maintain food quality.

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