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Does anyone ever wonder if so many Lake Erie Walleye can ever run out of food sources?

At first thought, you'd think that the food chain would be somewhat impacted by so many top tier, predatory fish that what they feed on would adversely be impacted by so many walleye (read: fat walleye).

But that doesn't seem to be happening, that I've seen.

I've heard grumblings about some of the really old fish being skinnier than normal b/c they're having a harder time feeding....but that's about it....and I have no idea how true that is.

Then again, it's a really big body of water.
 
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WALLEYE, SMALLMOUTH, LARGEMOUTH, PERCH, BLUEGILL
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Walleye eating walleye and I have seen many perch of different sizes as well as excellent bait balls on the screen.
 

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Run out of food supply? Absolutely not, when lake Erie is connected to every other great lake through river systems
 

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Run out of food supply? Absolutely not, when lake Erie is connected to every other great lake through river systems
The food supply of Superior, Huron, and Michigan is pretty irrelevant to Erie, me thinks. Not many fish go south of Lake St. Clair and then into Erie.
And I don't think the baitfish in Ontario are going to be jumping over Niagara Falls.
For those of you laughing at my question, there are at least three to five times as many walleye in Erie as there were before all of our excellent hatches.
A walleye is at or near the top of the food chain in Erie.
When you have 3-5 times as many apex type predators, the food chain will likely change.
Then again, maybe we simply have 3-5 times as many baitfish as well?
 

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Just insane, makes me wonder if the population can get too large and become more vulnerable to a rapid collapse. I'm no biologist, just an observant *******. Probably more dependent on forage and the complexities of the food chain. Fingers crossed but the 20's are looking to be the good old days for quite some time longer.
 

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Well , I think we need fisheries biologist to provide some insight. Erie is a very fertile lake, meaning it has the capacity to support a lot of fish in lbs. per acre of surface compared to some of the other lakes. Shallow warm water supports algae and such eaten by fry and baitfish. I don’t know life cycle of the forage/bait fish but I know that many or most shad die off yearly. What about smelt, emerald shiners, and other baitfish? I’ve read stories of other smaller lakes going through cycle of predator and baitfish populations so I’m sure Erie has cycles too. Probably too complex to figure it out. In the meantime catch and enjoy all you can!
 

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there might be big numbers of eyes now but size wise they are nothing compared to the "good old days"...the late 70's early 80's there were lots and lots of 3-4-5-6-7-8 lb fish with quite a few 10 lbers...back then people only fished the summer time maybe this year round fishing is hurting the size numbers...we have had all these great hatches but still the 18-22" fish dominate the class size...they have plenty of food so why don't we have more bigger fish sizes.
 

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The big fish are there but with huge year hatch's dominating the waters they don't stand a chance to hit that one little lure that's out there.Like a pond filled with mini gills and flying at the chance of getting something to eat.There have been and still are post's of quick limit's,they're all cookie cutter size I would bet, but every once in a while you run across the big ones that make a memorable day.IMO when the big ones dominate you won't be seeing quick limit's.Just my opinion.
 

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WALLEYE, SMALLMOUTH, LARGEMOUTH, PERCH, BLUEGILL
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Caught many big walleye this year as well as many smaller keepers and shorts that will be keepers next year. I will take the current year over the 80's. I hope the limit and size restrictions do not change.
 
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I feel the lake will balance itself in relation to predator vs food sources.Those 2021 fish are now bait for other bigger fish.There are also plenty of bigger fish other than walleye that eat bait also.The fish we have caught last two seasons,to me have really added weight and thickened up.Thinking those were mostly the 2015 hatch fish we have been relying on the last 4 yrs.When those 2015 fish became legal they were skinny and caught then very fast.Saw a lot of posts that those fish had nothing in their stomachs.Did not see many bait balls on sonar then.Seams there are more bait on our sonar last 2yrs.We also have mayflys and midge hatches and other insects fish eat.Think there is a lot more things fish eat than just other smaller fish.
 

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Plenty of food out there for them. All summer long the smelt were 10+ ft thick out of the central basin on sonar. Marinas in the central basin had large schools of shiners at the docks. Lots of gizzard shad in the rivers. My guess is all this high water the last few years has been nothing but beneficial for Lake Erie.


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The lake is a different place in which to live now compared to the 80's. I remember losing sight of the golden nugget about 3' down while drifting around Niagara in June as a kid. Now, one can see bottom in 15' on a sunny day around the islands. The water is undoubtedly warmer, and if you fish around the firing range, West Sister, or Niagara the entire year, then yes....the fish will get smaller on average as summer wears on. The Western basin is the nursery for the entire fishery. Once those fish mature, they begin the annual trek to the East post-spawn. Look at any charter photo from Ashtabula/Geneva etc. from the past month. They are catching 23-30" fish on the regular, and a lot of them. Those fish will start working their way back West once the water starts to cool (which may take awhile this year) and by late November there will be (as always) 10# and up fish caught as far West as Huron and Catawba. There is a reason that 10's of thousands of anglers from all over North America come to Lake Erie to fish for walleyes: For average size and numbers, it cannot be matched.

One thing that is certain, when one recalls "the good 'ole days" one typically only remembers the best days, and not the normal days. I have photos from the river dating back to the mid 90's and the fish we catch today are the same size as the fish we caught 30 years ago. We caught shorts, mature females, and mature jacks back then, just like we do now.

The limit needs to stay at six per day and 15" minimum. Nobody needs more than six walleyes per person per day from Lake Erie.
 

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I do remember the good old days of casting when a 10 fish limit.Do not remember getting limit very often back then.What was ODNR philosophy of having a 10 fish limit then, compared to a 6 fish limit with a record number of fish in the lake now.
 

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reason limit went down was there were some lean years of low hatches in the 90's i believe...i think the numbers dropped down to around 25 million...2003 was the year i believe that had the biggest record hatch and the numbers steadly increased from there...in the GOD's 10 fish limits were common for us...lots of 40 fish limits... fishing was tough after a blow when the water was chocolate milk...2-3 hundred or more boats in a pack sometimes all drifting and casting...a lot cheaper back then handfull of weight foreward spinners and 10 dozen worms which only cost 1.50-2.00 a dozen.
 
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