Fishing season doesn’t have to end when warm weather gives way to the cold, when autumnal leaves yield to ice. Ice fishing on Lake Erie is a fun way to continue enjoying your favorite hobby deep into the depths of winter. But, before you go, there are things you need to know.
Before You Go Ice Fishing on Lake Erie
It is important to check the most recent Lake Erie ice fishing report for weather conditions, thickness of ice, etc. for the states and entry points you plan on using before heading out onto the ice.
What To Wear
To get the most out of your Lake Erie ice fishing experience, and to enjoy it fully, you’ll want to dress warmly! It’s best dress in layers with the outermost layer being both water and wind resistant. In addition to your layers of clothes, you should have rubber-soled, insulated and waterproof boots on your feet, a hat or other covering protecting your ears, and water resistant gloves to keep your hands warm for a long day on the Lake Erie ice.
What To Pack
To stay hydrated and fueled up for a day of Lake Erie ice fishing, pack plenty of water and protein-rich foods like nuts and energy bars. Additionally, pack hand warmers, sunglasses, and a camera/smartphone for classic ice fishing Lake Erie perch, pike and walleye photos. As you pack, be mindful of space constraints in the ice fishing tents, sheds and shelters. As far as fishing supplies, you’ll want to have jigging poles, artificial lures and minnows to sweeten the tip-ups!
It’s important to note that ice fishing on Lake Erie may require additional or separate fishing permits. In Pennsylvania, for example there’s a stand-alone Lake Erie fishing permit while in OH non-residents must have a Lake Erie fishing permit to hit the ice and chilly waters specifically from Jan 1 - April 30. Check your state’s fishing license requirements before planning your Lake Erie ice fishing adventure.
Staying Safe on the Lake Erie Ice
Finally, you must keep yourself and those you love safe on the Lake Erie ice. “There’s no such thing as safe ice. That’s the rule,” says Capt. Tony Muscioni of Rock The Lake. “You never know. If you hit a soft spot and you go down, it’s over. You gotta be very cautious.” The Ohio Department of Natural Resources notes that, “Ice must be at least 4 inches thick to support an angler and their gear (about 200 pounds). And while no ice is safe, clear ice has less impurities than cloudy ice.” As a rule, you should never ice fish alone and to be as safe as possible, wear a life jacket when ice fishing on Lake Erie.
Additionally, have your phone charged fully and in a plastic bag to avoid the negative effects of moisture, use sand for better traction on the ice, and if not heading out on an airboat charter or with a guide, keep the classic ‘safety in numbers’ lesson in mind and fish around others.
Heading onto the ice? Learn the different ice fishing techniques before you go!