CATAWBA ISLAND — Hundreds of anglers have been making it out on the ice to do some cold weather fishing thanks to the shallow bay off the south end of East Harbor State Park, which has continued to remain a hotspot for the seasonal sport.
“The ice really locks in there and stays there. I would think there’s seven, eight inches of ice over there,” said Don Reeves, a local Catawba Island resident who lives just around the corner from the park.
The amount of fishing and other outdoor opportunities Lake Erie offers year-round led Reeves, 72, to move to the area around 35 years ago.
“The ice fishing’s usually pretty good (at East Harbor State Park). I generally do some myself, but I haven’t yet this year,” he said.
Reeves said he checks it out every season and has continued doing so this year, too.
“The place has been packed for a good few weeks now since the ice has been out here,” he said. “Look at the crowds out there.”
When snow covers the ice, it makes it the trek less slippery, but the lack of consistent snowfall this year has not bode well for someone his age, Reeves said.
And the biting, 20-plus mph southwest winds over the weekend made the 20-degree temperatures feel much colder.
“I’m getting too old to do it,” he said. “It’s kind of treacherous to get out there anymore with no snow. That makes it hard.”
Proper shoes are required to avoid taking a tumble because the ice can be slippery, and even with the right shoes, there are still plenty of other factors that can make ice fishing dangerous.
“Nobody’s ice fishing out there (on Lake Erie),” Reeves said, pointing to the open water off the north side of East Harbor. “It’s got to be a darn good winter before you can get out there.”
He said he has not seen any anglers on the ice off of Catawba Island State Park to the west, which during colder years is a popular spot to launch from.
With the southeastern end of East Harbor’s beach working as a break wall, however, that portion on the south side of the park gets much thicker ice frozen over sooner, even in milder winters.
“What a crowd, though,” Reeves said.
The only problem with that much activity from so many anglers all at once is the demand for access points to get all of the necessary gear, which on top of the shanties can be a lot more, and quite heavy to haul out.
With so many areas also having rock walls, it can add to the difficulty. Reeves said he would like to see more funding go toward putting additional access points to the lake for busy weekends such as this past one.
“Really, I’m not out there because it’s really hard to do without very many access places,” he said.
Alternatively, Reeves was able to use the opportunity to take his dog, Snuggles, out for a walk around the park.
This article originally appeared on Port Clinton News Herald: Big crowd of anglers take advantage of colder temps for ice fishing