Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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Erie ice fishing: an iffy proposition in any year

Put-In-Bay, Ohio (AP) – It sure seems like it has been cold
enough on some days for ice fishing.

But so far, the cold hasn’t lasted long enough to make it safe
for ice fishing on Lake Erie.

Fishing guides say they’re hopeful, but unsure whether there
will be enough ice this winter.

“Normally, we consider January ice-making month, not this year,”
said John Hageman, owner of Prime Time Ice Charters in Put-in-Bay
on South Bass Island.

Ice fishing season on Lake Erie normally runs from the second
week of January to early March. But it’s never a sure thing.

In some years, there’s no ice at all.

Forecasters say temperatures need to drop below 32 degrees for
at least two weeks for the lake to freeze. Temperatures rose to 65
degrees and fell below zero during January, making it tough on
anglers hoping to get out on the ice.

Ice did take shape briefly about a month ago near South Bass
Island, but it wasn’t thick enough for safe fishing, said Pat
Chrysler, a guide on the island. The ice was less than an inch
thick. It needs to be at least six inches thick, Chrysler said.

Another problem is that high winds and big waves took out some
ice that had formed.

Guides normally don’t count on picking up much money from ice
fishing because the season varies so much.

But for many businesses, it can be a big bonus.

“If the ice comes in, (business) picks up considerably,” said
Don Thwaite, co-owner of Skyway Restaurant on South Bass Island.
“That’s a big part of the winter economy.”

Hageman said he can make up to $10,000 in a typical season. He
also stands to get good exposure from the media when the ice is
thick enough to fish. A pair of Ohio outdoor writers were headed to
the islands in late January to chronicle the ice fishing, only to
be turned back by unaccommodating conditions.

“It’s very important for a lot of people over here, not just the
ones doing it for hire,” he said. “Lots of residents are all about
it. It’s an obsession, really. And it’s too bad when we don’t get
it.”

Hundreds of people flock to the island during the winter when
there is ice on the lake, said Maggie Beckford, executive director
of the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce.

Yet, it’s hard to say how much money ice fishing brings in
because the seasons are inconsistent, she said.

Ohio Outdoor News Editor Mike Moore contributed to this
story.

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