It’s the perfect getaway for anyone with the winter blahs and a penchant for a little excitement in their lives. All you need is warm clothing, which most of us who live north of the Mason-Dixon Line know about.
It’s ice fishing Lake Erie style. You’ve probably heard on the news about “hard water fishing” here in Northern Ohio.
“Fishermen stranded on ice flo” blares a familiar headline in the newspapers. This scary scenario usually plays out at least once a year. Fortunately, though, it’s rare that it ends in tragedy thanks to local rescue squads and the Coast Guard who keep a watchful eye on us ice anglers.
One way to minimize any of the dangers of ice fishing is to hire a professional guide, someone who knows the ice-covered lake and who has all the gear for a safe and successful day on the lake. It is money well spent.
Over the last few years ice fishing has grown in popularity, mainly because most guides now offer the comfort of heated shanties and vehicles to get you to and from the fishing holes, plus your fishing equipment. Some guides also employ the use of air boats to get around the lake.
The nice thing about an air boat is that it can be used to fish open water as well. Fish not biting through the ice? No problem, let’s have a go of it in ice-free water. Granted, most of Lake Erie’s Western Basin freezes over in the winter, but there are times when shifting ice creates open areas. It’s an opportunity not to be overlooked.
By far, the best way to get involved in ice fishing is to employ the services of a guide, rather than buying everything you would need. Who knows, you might not like it after several tries and you’d be stuck with all that expensive gear.
On the other hand you might fall in love with the sport. In this case you’ve gained valuable insight from your guide into what it takes to equip yourself.
One thing is certain: you’ll need plenty of winter clothing since fishing guides leave this up to their customers.
You will want to dress for the elements, as in very cold and wet conditions. It’s recommended that ice anglers dress in layers, using moisture wicking clothing next to the skin to avoid becoming chilled. Above all, dress in layers. You can always remove a sweater if you get too warm; you can’t always add one when you are miles from the car.
A real trip killer is cold feet, so make sure boots are insulated and waterproof. They will cost a little more but well worth the investment. The same is true for socks. I recommend the wool or wool-blend types because they permit foot moisture to evaporate, yet keep your tootsies warm.
For the outer layer, I always recommend a down parka. I have one from LL Bean. It is light-weight but warm and the shell is waterproof. Pair this outfit with waterproof gloves and it’s a match made in heaven.
If I’ve given you the itch to try ice fishing here are some guides to contact. Have fun!
Brad Leyda: 330-416-0830
Randy Sells: 419-250-0227
Bud Gehring: 419-261-0165
John Gribble: 800-769-1750
Pat Chrysler: 419-285-4631
Put-In-Bay Ice Guides: 614-312-7649
Jeff Jump: 419-341-8010
Joe Kostura: (419) 285-3106
John Hageman: (419) 285-2029
Chuck Crum: 614-419-8265
The western Basin is home to Lake Erie ice fishing. These guides all operate from the Port Clinton, OH area.