Ice fishing on Lake Erie
SANDUSKY, OH (WTOL) -
A big, seasonal, tourism draw has been struggling for the last two months. Usually this time of year, the waters of the western basin of Lake Erie, Maumee Bay and at Sandusky Bay are frozen over.
But this year, not so much.
The warm and windy weather Northwest Ohio has been experiencing is also having an effect on the usually booming of ice fishing.
With the western basin being so shallow and being the world walleye capital, ice fishing has become one of the few consistent tourism draws for the Lake Erie Shores and Islands.
"It brings in business at a time of year when some of the restaurants, some of the hotels, some of the bait shops, businesses that cater to that audience, might not otherwise be open, " said Larry Fletcher, Lake Erie Shores and Islands president
Tony Muscioni is the owner of Air 1 Airboats. He says usually from mid-December to March, his phone is ringing off of the hook with folks wanting to go out on the ice.
"I get them from North Dakota, Wisconsin, Alaska, Canada, Wyoming, New York, you know these guys are avid hunters and fishermen, " said Muscioni.
But the last two seasons have been rough for ice fishing charters. With air temperatures fluctuating often below and above freezing, and strong winds, the ice hasn't had a chance to set in.
Muscioni says he has only gone out a handful of times this year.
"And it [ice] was in up until last week, and then we had those 40-50 mile an winds last night and it just shoved everything out into the lake, " said Tony.
But there are still a few months of possible fishing left, so Muscioni will stay optimistic.
"I still think we're going to get ice, " Muscioni said. "The water has been cold enough, the only thing that is killing us now is the wind."