ST. MARYS — Anglers hitting Grand Lake St. Marys may soon be catching yellow perch more often after a state sponsored fish stock.
On May 23, officials from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources released 100,408 yellow perch into Grand Lake St. Marys as part of an experimental stocking. ODNR Wildlife spokesperson Susie Vance told The Evening Leader the fish are no stranger to the lake.
“Grand Lake St. Marys has a naturally, self-sustaining population of perch and it was due to a stocking made in 1944,” Vance said. “That was really successful and they have been naturally reproducing and sustaining since then.”
The perch were raised at the fish hatchery in St. Marys. The fingerlings, between 1.5 and 2 inches, were released at Behm’s Landing.
“Through different field surveys and 65 years of habitat change, we felt the population needed a boost,” Vance said. “That’s what our stocking programs do across the state. We’ve marked these fish and we will be able to tell if they are naturally reproducing or if they are stocked fish.”
The perch should take between three and four years until they reach a catchable size for an inland lake. The yellow perch stocking in the lake was the first time state officials placed the fish in Grand Lake St. Marys since 1944.
“I think it’s a huge bonus for the lake,” Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Brian Miller told The Evening Leader. “It gives us another fish that will draw tourism to the lake.”
Currently, perch fishing is “hit or miss,” Miller said.
“I’ve never understood it,” Miller said. “Some years it’s good and some it’s off. Right now, we are notable for our crappie, bass and bluegill. Hopefully we get to the point to where the yellow perch is a sustainable fish.”
Miller said those looking to catch perch should look for sand bars.
“That’s one of the most popular places people fish for them,” Miller said.