Lake Erie ice fishing Reports
Port Clinton, Ohio — When the ice fishing first got going on Lake Erie, Catawba Island State Park and Camp Perry were about the only access sites to get onto the lake. A wide crack persisted off the Crane Creek beach and west. Ice near Mouse Island and over to Green Island was late to thicken up enough to use, too.
At Catawba Island State Park, there have been multiple reports of dented vehicles, likely caused by the tightly packed parking lot that left little room for trailers to clear the tight turns required when vehicles are parked too closely.
Unfortunately, there have also been unlocked trailers stolen from vehicle hitches and unattended ATV’s, trailers, and shanties taken from the ice near there.
On Super Bowl Sunday, a heavy snowfall created difficult conditions for ATV travel, but a slight warm-up and light rain compressed the snow and refroze, making traveling much easier.
A marked Christmas tree trail from Catawba to Put-in-Bay, used mostly by snowmobilers, has resulted in several dozen “sleds” filling the parking lots and front yard at Tipper’s Restaurant at Put-in-Bay each weekend.
Because of several factors, airboats were eventually prohibited from launching at Camp Perry by the camp commander. A huge hole in the ice just off the beach there swallowed a UTV and surprised a few other recreational vehicle owners before people learned to go around it.
When the ice finally became fishable nearby, Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area, formerly known as Crane Creek State Park, took a lot of the pressure for parking spaces off of Catawba Island State Park and Camp Perry.
As fishing success slowed down at Catawba, the Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area parking lot became so full on Feb. 21 that the police had to turn vehicles away from the driveway at State Route 2. Anglers quitting early couldn’t leave until the owners of the vehicles that had them blocked in returned also.
A single lane went from State Route 2 all the way back to the lake, forcing one to drive in reverse all of the way back to one end whenever there were vehicles going north and south at the same time.
By Tuesday, Feb. 21, the Division of Wildlife issued special parking rules that prohibited parking along the southbound lane of the road. This was a result of concerns expressed by the local fire department chief about not being able to respond to emergencies.
When one angler who surveyed license plates that day, it appeared to him that ¾ of the vehicles had Michigan plates on them. States other than Ohio that were also well-represented included Indiana and Wisconsin.
Numerous concerned anglers have expressed disgust at the behavior of some of the so-called sportsmen, who were leaving trash on the ice that included food and beverage containers, lure wrappers, and even empty 1-pound propane bottles after their day of fishing.
For the most part, this has been a tougher bite than last year. Finicky fish have been on the move or active for only brief periods of time many days. Keeping on the move and getting away from the crowds has been more important this winter to stay on top of fish.