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Good fishing forecast for this summer

By summertime, the fishing in Lake Erie should be fairly easy because -- to paraphrase Gershwin -- the walleye are jumping and the yellow perch count is high.

It's the kind of thing every serious angler needs to know, which is why Assemblyman Jack Quinn III, R-Hamburg, Thursday arranged a meeting to inform them about the state of Lake Erie. For fishing IS pretty good, said Don Einhouse, a senior fishery biologist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

"The walleye status looks really good right now. We've got an abundance of all populations," said Einhouse at the conclusion of a 20-minute presentation on the status of Lake Erie's fishery.

Walleye, he said, are "going to largely support our fishery this year," as well as yellow perch, bass and steelhead.

"But we're worried about lake trout. The goal of the lake trout program, to be meaningful, is not so much to produce a fishery, but to get a rehabilitated population," Einhouse added.

He and other experts from the DEC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shared additional information on how state and federal agencies are addressing long-standing environmental problems with programs to restock dwindling fish species and to fight the encroachment of invasive species that threaten fish.

Dave "Woody" Woodworth is president of the Southtowns Walleye Association, which helped arrange the meeting at the Armor Fire Hall in the Town of Hamburg. Woodworth said the association has always stressed the importance of keeping up-to-date on the status of the lake.

"The fishery . . . to the sports people is important -- tremendously important. I feel that the water itself is what really has to be protected," said Woodworth, referring to new species, such as gobe fish that eat the eggs of other fish species.

Woodworth was especially pleased to see 20 youngsters from the environmental chemistry class at St. Mary's High School in Lancaster attending the meeting.

"These young people are going to be the future scientists that are going find [cures] for all these different diseases [that the fish suffer], and be the people that are going to try and protect our fishery."

A big concern currently is viral hemorrhagic septicemia, a pathogenic virus that threatens freshwater and saltwater fish of all species, sizes and ages by causing hemorrhaging of tissue, including internal organs. Paul E. McKeown, fisheries manager with the DEC, spoke about the agency's efforts to limit the spread of the disease.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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