Caution a necessity when ice fishing

Water and Wings by Ken Parrott

Ice fishermen have finally had a winter where it’s been cold enough for a long enough period of time that they can actually have a season.

There has been a lot of success in the past month by those that brave the cold and venture out on the frozen water. Ponds, inland lakes, and the harbors of Lake Erie have been producing tremendous catches of bluegills, crappie, and perch. However, it’s important to keep your guard up at all times when venturing out on ice, especially if you are attempting to fish larger bodies of water such as Lake Erie.

Just this past weekend, eighteen people had to be rescued off of Catawba when a large crack developed and a large flow of ice started drifting out into the lake. This is the second time this has happened in the past couple of weeks. Both times, strong winds from the south created the push and caused the ice to break away from shore and start to drift.

Both of these situations put humans at risk both those that need to be saved and those who are saving them. On top of that, it is quite costly as only souls are saved by the Coast Guard, meaning the humans are rescued but the gear is not. Several ATVs and fishing gear had to be left behind during the rescue.

Keep in mind when venturing out on ice, that things can change daily. Avoid bodies of water that have a current or ponds that have springs. Ice thickness should be checked in several places before venturing out from the bank.

There are a lot of factors that affect the strength of ice besides thickness. Those include: Thawing and refreezing can weaken ice; Pockets of air can form under the ice on lakes where the water levels are raised and lowered by flood control; The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process; Ice formed over flowing water and currents is often dangerous.

Water temperatures in lakes and streams remain cold. Cold water will cool a body 25 times faster than cold air of the same temperature. In just minutes, even the best swimmers may experience complete exhaustion and symptoms of hypothermia.

It is always a good idea to plan your outdoor pursuits and share your plan with a trusted friend or family member, especially if you are alone or planning to be on or near frozen water. Plans should include where you are going, what you will be doing, a timeline of your travels, and when you expect to arrive home. If you see someone fall through the ice, it is important not to go on the ice after them. Ice that breaks once will break again. The best solution is to call for help.

• The ODNR Division of Wildlife has tabulated the 2021 Fish Ohio submissions, and the results show that 8,943 anglers reeled in at least one qualifying fish last year. Submissions were high for Lake Erie walleye, as well as saugeye, crappie, and largemouth bass at Ohio’s inland lakes.

The Fish Ohio program highlights amazing catches at inland lakes and reservoirs, Lake Erie, the Ohio River, and other waterways for 25 of Ohio’s most popular sport fish. Those who catch a qualifying fish receive a Fish Ohio pin for their first entry and a master angler pin for catching four separate qualifying species in the same year. Each year’s pin features a different species, and in 2022, the headliner is a black crappie. Applications for a Fish Ohio pin are accepted at

Lake Erie is renowned as The Walleye Capital of the World, and it is the best place to catch a Fish Ohio walleye. To qualify for Fish Ohio, a walleye needs to measure 28 inches or longer. In 2021, anglers caught 1,392 Fish Ohio walleyes in Lake Erie, the largest of which measured 34 inches long. As I’ve mentioned before, we landed nine Fish Ohio qualifying walleye in our boat last season ourselves.

Some of the more popular species at inland lakes are largemouth bass, saugeye, and crappie. A saugeye longer than 21 inches, a largemouth bass longer than 20 inches, and a crappie longer than 13 inches qualifies for Fish Ohio status.

One of the most popular sport fish pursued at inland Ohio lakes is the largemouth bass.. The top destinations for Fish Ohio largemouth bass are Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area, Portage Lakes, Nimisila Reservoir, and Mosquito Creek Lake. Four anglers all reported catching a largemouth bass of 26 inches, the largest for inland lakes in 2021, at Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area.

Saugeye are stocked in more than 60 Ohio lakes and reservoirs by the Division of Wildlife. These fish grow fast and are caught throughout the year, making them a favorite of many Buckeye State anglers. The top three destinations for Fish Ohio saugeye are Buckeye Lake, Indian Lake, and Alum Creek Lake. Three anglers shared the largest reported saugeye catch in 2021, all measuring 30 inches. They were reeled in on Griggs Reservoir and the Ohio River.

The top three destinations for Fish Ohio crappie are Mosquito Creek Lake, Indian Lake, and Hoover Reservoir. The largest crappie caught in public waters in 2021 was 18¾ inches long and was found at Leesville Lake.

Make plans now for getting out this fishing season to catch your Fish Ohio fish. Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!

Water and Wings by Ken Parrott

Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.

Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.