Anglers on Saginaw Bay caught a record number of walleye during the 2017-18 winter months according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Factors included an increased daily possession limit implemented in October, 2015 along with further increases in walleye population numbers and good ice fishing conditions. Anglers took in nearly 123,793 walleye, the most ever measured since creel surveys began on Saginaw Bay in 1983. Angler participation increased for January through March with 545,226 angler hours compared to the average winter of around 390,000 angler hours. Open water fishing on Saginaw Bay was also considered good with an estimated 221,251 walleye taken. When looking at both periods combined, Saginaw Bay saw 345,044 walleye taken and more than one million angler hours of effort, breaking the previous record set in 2008 when 329,549 walleye were taken.
Walleye numbers are up in the bay due to lower numbers of the types of fish walleye prey on, like yellow perch. The more liberal regulations for walleye are an effort to keep the population under control. In addition to the loosened walleye regulations, the daily possession limit for yellow perch in Saginaw Bay was reduced from 50 to 25. The combined walleye and yellow perch regulations aimed to reach a better balance between walleye and yellow perch populations in the bay while maximizing the benefits for Michigan anglers.