Ice fishing Ohio
Ice fish for species like bluegill and walleye in Ohio. (Photo: ice fishing equipment image by Inger Anne HulbÃkdal from Fotolia.com )
Ice anglers in Ohio's lakes and reservoirs can find a variety of game fish, including walleye and bluegill. When the ice is safe, many Buckeye State anglers enjoy venturing out on frozen bodies of water amidst the scenic white backdrop of ice and snow-capped landscape.
You can catch fish species such as crappie, bass, bluegill, perch, catfish, walleye and saugeye during winter in Ohio. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the most coveted fish during the winter is the saugeye-a cross between the sauger and a walleye-because of their high activity in cold temperatures.
Two of the most productive ice fishing grounds are Indian Lake in Logan County and Buckeye Lake in Licking and Fairfield counties, especially for saugeye. Both lakes are shallow and freeze quickly during the winter. Indian Lake spans 5, 800 acres and offers other winter activities such as ice skating, snowmobiling and ice boating. A hot spot for bluegill is on the submerged humps off the lake's west bank just south of Oldfield Beach. The Old Indian Lake section is also a productive spot to drill your ice fishing hole. Stay and camp at the Indian Lake State Park's campground with amenities like full hook-up sites, electric sites, heated shower houses, flush toilets and laundry facilities. In Lake Erie, you can find an ideal ice fishing spot in the area between Rattlesnake and Green Islands.
Ohio experiences warm winters, so you may not always get the chance to find fishable ice. But if it does get cold enough, the months of January and February are the best times for an ice fishing trip. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources recommends a minimum of 5 inches for safe ice angling.
Tackle and Techniques
Use jigs or spoons tipped with minnows when ice angling for saugeye. Save money by re-crafting used or broken summer rods for ice fishing, especially if you are just starting to ice fish. According to Ohio state fisheries biologist Ray Petering, angling through an ice hole is much easier with a shortened pole because of its maneuverability. Use lighter tackle equipment such as a 10-pound test line or less with smaller baits, because fish tend to be less aggressive and more sluggish during the winter. Increase your odds of catching fish by tipping artificial lures with live bait.
All anglers must have a valid state license to fish in Ohio. Resident and non-resident fishing licenses are available at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website and various license agents throughout the state. If you are just visiting the state for a short period, one-day and three-day fishing permits are also available. You are allowed to drill holes no larger than 12 inches in diameter. The maximum number of tip-ups for ice anglers is six, and the maximum number of rods is two per person.