I have noticed a lot more juvenile fish this year as well. It is a great sign since I really did not see many at all last year. Picked up a 14 incher last night that saved from a skunk over by gull island last night.
I was fishing the St. Clair area yesterday morning and boated 8 14" fish. I have been catching lots of 14" fish over the past few weeks in the SCR. This is good news for the future. (all 8 fish went back)
I too have been putting the little guys back, but I am the only one I see doing that, I am seeing alot of fish going in the coolers. Is there not a minimum size? Canadian side no limit on size, US side, 15" I thought?
We had an average hatch on Erie in 2007; those are the current batch of 14-15" fish folks are catching around here. A lot of fish that spawn in the Western basin make the move north, often as far as Saginaw Bay, so its likely the same year class.