Erie ice guide still optimistic

By Al Smith

The (Defiance) Crescent-News

Put-In-Bay, Ohio — Veteran Lake Erie ice-fishing guide Pat
Chrysler is taking the unusual winter weather in stride. When
you’ve been in the business for more than 35 years, you know things
are at the mercy of Mother Nature.

“That’s the nature of the business,” Chrysler said. “But, I
wouldn’t put my snow shovel away yet. We’re likely going to use
it.”

Chrysler, who lives in Put-in-Bay, is well known around Ohio not
only as an ice guide, but as a charter captain and also as a
waterfowl guide.

He lives the life of an outdoorsman 12 months of the year. He
began as an apprentice ice guide when he was 13 or 14 years
old.

“When you are in this business, you always look on April Fool’s
Day and decide whether you were a fool or not,” he said.

Asked what he thought on April 1, 2006, Chrysler said, “We’ll
just smile about that one.”

Last winter, there was virtually no ice-fishing when December
was a colder than normal month while January was warmer than
normal.

“We had three to five inches for a couple of weeks, but I won’t
go out on that kind of ice. Some of the more adventurous types went
out,” Chrysler said. “Last year was such a tease in December and
then January was just like we have now.”

But the veteran guide is optimistic ice will still form on the
big lake.

“It looks like it’s supposed to be more seasonal (in late
January), but we heard this before,” he said.

Chrysler says having an ice season “comes and goes.”

He explained. “Probably eight or 10 years we have not had ice. I
just hope it doesn’t try and catch up with itself with all the warm
weather we’ve had.”

That would have to happen quickly since Lake Erie’s temperature
was a record 43 degrees on Jan. 8.

“When we get ice, it’s usually only for three or four weeks
anymore. We used to get 12 weeks of it. There really is something
to this global warming thing,” he said. “If we could get the jet
stream to take a little shift …”

Chrysler said it would take some time for the warm lake to
freeze. Snow would help.

“It’s going to take 12-18 inches of snow accumulation in that
lake to get it down enough to where it starts freezing. In a big
mass of water, dropping snow on it is like putting an ice cube in
your Gatorade. It all depends. I’ve already seen where the lake
will tighten up in three days, but not when the water temperature
is 43 degrees. It may take two to three weeks of cold weather to
drop it down enough. Now, if we get a lot of wind and cold weather
and throw in some snow, she’ll cool down quick.”

But, plenty of snow is not the ticket for Chrysler and his peers
once ice forms.

“Snow is a pain in the neck for everyone and it doesn’t help my
business,” he said. “If you cannot move around easily on the
highways, people are not going to drive around and go fish. We need
it easy on the snow and easy on the wind and good cold weather for
my business to be at its best.”

For now, all Chrysler and other Lake Erie ice guides like him
can do is wait.

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