COLUMBUS, OH - Ice fishing opportunities can be found in a variety of inland lakes and ponds, and Lake Erie as well, but the "Big Lake" warrants special considerations. For a variety of reasons, including safety, many anglers hire a licensed ice fishing guide who can set them up in the protective shelter of a shanty and help them locate fish. For those targeting walleye, use minnows on jigging lures or blade baits. Yellow perch can be caught with a spreader or crappie rig tipped with shiners.
Other things to remember before going ice fishing:
No ice is safe ice
Frabill ice fishing pro, Dale Stroschein, preaches mobility and the proper gear for consistent success in icing big water walleyes. Photo courtesy of Frabill
Have a valid Ohio fishing license
Know the size and daily limits for the fish that you hope to catch
Learn the ice fishing regulations for where you are fishing
Make a checklist of things you will need to have fun and be safe
Consider leaving a "float plan" with someone who knows that you will be out on the ice, indicating where you plan to fish, where you plan to park your vehicle, and when you plan to return home. For boaters, this is common practice, and for ice anglers, it's not a bad idea either.
Once the freeze is on, check the most recent ice fishing reports, or make a quick stop at the local bait shop to find out what's biting and where. As always, be safe when you head out on the ice and for more information, call 1-800-WILDLIFE or contact your local Wildlife District Office.
Other Safety Tips
Find an Ice Fishing Guide
Always fish with a partner or in an area with several other anglers present.
Let others know exactly where you are going and when you plan to return.
Place a cell phone in a plastic bag to protect it from moisture in case you get wet.
Sprinkle sand around your feet for better traction on the ice.
Always take along a PFD seat cushion or more importantly, wear a life vest in case of an emergency.
Avoid areas where feeder streams, springs, bridge pilings, docks, and dam structures since ice is usually very thin there.
If you fall into the water, remain calm.
Slip your loose boots off to better tread water.
Use ice awls to pull yourself out of the water.
If no ice awls are available, call for help and try "swimming out" by letting your body rise up to firm ice and crawl out.
Stay flat, distributing your weight on the ice.
Keep your clothes on once out of the water. This will keep you insulated.
If someone else falls in the water: REACH using a stick or fishing pole; THROW a rope or PFD; ROW or push a boat and GO call for help.