Ice Fishing Western basin Ice Fishing Western basin Ice Fishing Western basin Ice Fishing Western basin
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Elkhart,IN.
    Posts
    104

    Default Ice Fishing Western basin

    Last year a couple of friends invited me to go out ice fishing with them up north. I was like not even interested until they told me it was a heated shack and the ride out was in a heated 4x4 and then I was like ok. I was still hesitant but I am glad I went it was a great time. We fished for white fish and everyone up there said they were better than walleye and after trying them I would have to disagree, but to each is there own. I was wondering if they have ice fished on Lake Erie in the western basin and if the ice gets thick enough for heated shacks? I was thinking it would be nice to take my friends out for some walleye

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Port Clinton, OH
    Posts
    1,295

    Default Re: Ice Fishing Western basin

    If you are not familiar with ice fishing the western basin, then I highly recommend hiring a local guide. The lake has a ton of current, and some areas are more dangerous than others. Usually, the best ice will be up between the bass islands, and there are several guides that fish there. However, that usually means a plane ride across, to get there, if the ice isn't locked up from the mainland.

    Every year is different....sometimes it locks up, and you can go out from the mainland, and sometimes it doesn't.

    Every year, people will go out without checking the wind direction, and head out with an offshore wind, and if strong enough....that opens up what we call the, "911 Crack" off of Catawba Island, and people have to be rescued. If that happens, they bring humans back, but leave all the gear out there. Salvage guys with air boats will go out and bring the gear back, but you will have to pay them to get it back.

    The shipping lanes north of the islands is usually kept open by ice breakers, as long as the ice isn't too thick.

    The last time the lake froze completely over was back in 2014/15.

    Last season, I think they only got two or three weeks of ice in February, but it was sketchy...and, again...18 people had to be rescued off of Catawba towards the end of that small window of opportunity, due to an offshore wind.

    There are several very good guides who put safety first, and some that will take more risks to make some money, so choose wisely.

    I won't ice fish out there, but if I did, I would do the fly over and go with the guides that go out of Put-in-Bay. There's usually a good population of fish in that triangle, and they do very well. It would be the safest area to fish, in my opinion. But, that's just me.
    Captain Julia "Juls" Davis
    [email protected]
    www.julswalleyefishingadventures.com
    https://www.facebook.com/JulsWFA?ref=br_rs
    Specializing in 1-3 person walleye and perch charters

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    nroyalton
    Posts
    1,014

    Default Re: Ice Fishing Western basin

    Agree with Juls.If going ice fishing go with a guide off south bass island.They get the first and sometimes only safe ice to fish off of.I have only ice fished twice and it was with a guide off south bass.It was quite the adventure.Some people spend the night on the island and fish a couple days too.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Ice Fishing Western basin

    I have been on Erie icing since 1995. With the same (now retired guide) for over 20 yrs. I learn so much about ice on Erie. Juls was right , going off the main land is very iffy even with the lake frozen. went off 3 times since I started in 1994. I would fly go over to PIB , found a " Good "guide' since I lost my old one, like everything some aren't very good. I could list why but not right now. ( especially when you had the best) lately housing is getting limit and only one place to eat.,the lat 3 yrs. Bring your wallet. if off main land bring your will. FYI: you can fine air boats off the main land but you will be bucket fishing

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Elkhart,IN.
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: Ice Fishing Western basin

    Thanks Jul, If I went it would be with a guide but I am not that big into ice fishing and I would never want to take a high risk just to ice fish. I think I will pass on the ice fishing on lake Erie.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Elkhart,IN.
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: Ice Fishing Western basin

    Thanks itsbob, I think I will pass on ice fishing lol

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Elkhart,IN.
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: Ice Fishing Western basin

    I guess I can wait for spring and take them jig fishing, seems a little safer

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Reside in Columbus, OH. Have place in Perrysburg, OH.
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: Ice Fishing Western basin

    Fishfinder,

    I'm by no means the ice fishing guy. Only been out on Erie twice, back during that 2014-15 (or was it 2015-16 - Juls stated it) season. Went out first time with some very experienced locals (charter boat captains) and the second out a well traveled trail out to a group (actually walked all the way to South Bass Island and back). I went mostly to see and learn about the ice (video on Youtube) but did some fishing too. Have also talked with a lot of experienced Erie ice fisherman as well as a few ice guides over the years. I think you may have been "scared" away from ice fishing Erie. While everything that has been said so far is good truthful info, I think the idea that it's typically not "safe" to fish from the mainland isn't quite correct.

    As you might expect, it all comes down to the ice. Because Erie is a huge lake with a lot of water differences (temperature, clarity, depth, semi-sheltered vs. open, currents, etc.) it doesn't freeze like smalller bodies of water. The first thing you need is long very cold weather with little wind. The ice needs time to form at least a few inches over a wide area to set the stage for good ice conditions. Then a short warm spell or some wind won't effect it nearly as much as when it's thin ice. If you get that first cold spell and you get that intial good ice, then if it either stays cold or you don't get more than a day or two or warmer weather and/or wind, the ice can continue to get thicker. If the conditions stay very favorable and the cold weather continues, the ice can thicken up enough that it "locks in" like Jules said. This happens along the the shoreline, especially from Port Clinton to Catawba and the Bass Islands. If it gets thick enough and a big enough "sheet" then it can withstand the currents and winds that will break up and shift around thinner ice. IF we get those conditions then ice fishing from the mainland can be very "safe". If, like that great season already mentioned, we get that kind of real cold mostly light winds for over a month or longer the ice can freeze up to two feet thick and ice fishing happens from off the reef complex (crane creek) all the way out to West Sister Island then east to the Islands. But this is rare. The best you can usually hope for is a smaller version of that where it's "safe" to ice fish out off Catawba for a few miles and also around the Bass Islands. When we get real good conditions, it's safe for snowmobiles, ATV's, and even lighter vehicles (although hardly anyone uses those anymore).

    Now, there are a lot of other factors that come into play. That big lake doesn't let the ice freeze solid in one big "sheet" without a lot of adjusting. If the ice hasn't gotten thick enough to withstand a big wind event, then one big wind can jumble up the ice, move it around, break it up into numerous separate sheets. Huge "ridge lines" can form where one ice sheet piles over and/or under another, caussing "ice shoves" of broken up ice that can be 10-15 feet high, like jagged mountain peaks. A few years ago this happened just before the ice got thick enough to withstand it. A lot of ice shoves formed out off Catawba. Afterward cold weather froze the nearby water again enough for ice fishing, but getting around or over all the ice shoves and ridges was a huge issue. Plus there can be thin ice areas around those shoves. Dangerous at best. Then there are currents that can slowly or in some cases quickly wear away the ice from underneath. The ice can be thick enough, safe, one day and the next too thin. There is also the ice itself. The best ice frezzes slowly and consistantly so it doesn't get a lot of air bubbles in it. It looks clear. 5 inches of good solid clear ice is better than say 8 inches of white or less clear ice that has a lot of air bubbles in it. Freeze and thaw also effects the quality of the ice. All these factors combine to make Lake Erie ice a tricky proposition even on a good ice season.

    The best thing to do is go to sites like this, or the ice fishing sites, or the few bait shops that are open, and get the latest update on the ice conditions - from reliable sources. The first few times you go out - go with a guide. Ask questions and learn about the ice. Otherwise if the ice conditions are really good, there will be "trails" out on the ice from the access locations. Stick to the well traveled ones and where the experienced anglers are going. Don't venture out away from those areas. And ALWAYS keep updated on the weather, especially the wind direction and speed. An area can be "safely" fished for days and then a wind comes up and within 30 minutes or less a big 50 yard wide crack of open water opens up and you can't get back to the shore.

    I'm sure others can add to this. Info, stories, and photos (I have some of big ice shoves). The take away is you can get some great ice fishing on Erie, either from South Bass Island or the mainland, IF the ice conditions are good and IF the weather is good.

    WB
    Last edited by West Basin; 12-19-2022 at 02:14 PM. Reason: spelling

  9. #9

    Default Re: Ice Fishing Western basin

    I agree almost 100 %. I personally would NEVER go between mainland and south bass do to the worst place for current. Second NEVER follow a air boat trail. They break up the ice. as mention before air boat off the mainland but you will be bucket fishing. Fly to PIB and you usually be in a shanty. I've caught more 10# thru the ice than ever in a boat

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    nroyalton
    Posts
    1,014

    Default Re: Ice Fishing Western basin

    Thanks, Dave, for that thorough explanation on how the ice forms on our lake. Merry Christmas to you and all the people who use this site. Hope we get some safe ice this winter for the ice fishermen and the businesses that get the support from the ice fishing.


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