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Ice Fishing Finally Heats up in Ohio

February 11, 2016
ODNR

Here are a few other pointers to keep in mind. Try to fish around other ice anglers so if you do fall through, someone might be there to help you get out. Remember to dress appropriately to prevent hypothermia and wear a life jacket or flotation suit when walking around on ice. Many anglers also bring along an extra change of dry clothes just in case of an emergency. Keep your cell phone available, but protected from the elements.

One of the great things about ice fishing is that tackle can be very simple and inexpensive. Short rods, light gear, light line, and small baits are the ticket. Some anglers also like to use small bobbers as strike indicators since strikes can be subtle. Tip-ups are a common addition to many ice anglers' tackle, too. They come in a variety of designs, but essentially involve a spool of line hanging in the water with bait attached. Most store-bought versions feature a signaling device, such as a flag, that pops up when a fish takes the bait. In Ohio, anglers can have up to six tip-ups going at one time, and each must be labeled with the owner's name and address.

Because fish don't strike as aggressively in the winter, you'll want to use lighter tackle 10 pound test or less and smaller baits. You can increase your odds by tipping artificial lures with live bait. Sluggish fish are much more likely to hit on a minnow-tipped jig as opposed to one with a plastic worm.

Article Photos

Local outdoorsman Chris Creed and his family have had much success this winter ice fishing at Mosquito Lake. Shown are three nice keeper walleye, and a handy Baracuta filet knife, made by Havalon Knives. Photo by Chris Creed

Tip-ups are another common method of ice fishing and come in a wide variety of designs. Essentially, they involve a spool of line hanging in the water with bait attached. Most store bought versions feature a signaling device, such as a flag, that pops up when a fish takes the bait. In Ohio, anglers can have up to six tip-ups going at one time.

What's biting down below? You can catch the same species when ice fishing as you hooked during the summer months, including crappie, bluegill, bass and catfish, as well as perch, walleye and saugeye.

In fact, some of the most sought after ice fish are saugeyes (a cross between the sauger and a walleye), because they are so active in the winter. Two of the best places for saugeye and ice fishing in general are Buckeye Lake in Fairfield and Licking counties, and Indian Lake in Logan County, which generally freeze quickly due to their shallowness. At these lakes, consider using a jig or spoon tipped with minnows.

Drop your line through an ice hole on a farm pond and you'll likely be pulling up some tasty panfish, such as bluegill and crappie. For bait, use a tiny ice jig or fly and tipping it with wax worms.

Lake Erie ice fishing is definitely a different "kettle of fish." For a variety of reasons including safety many anglers hire a guide who sets them up in the protective shelter of a shanty and helps them locate the fish. The area between Green and Rattlesnake islands, just west of South Bass Island, usually offers some of the safest ice on the lake.

For those targeting walleye, use minnows on jigging spoons, blade baits and jigging Rapalas. Yellow perch can be caught with a spreader or crappie rig tipped with shiners. Some anglers include a bobber as a strike indicator.

 
 

 

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