Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lake Erie bucket brigade ready (But are the walleye?)

John Hageman Jr. - a Lake Erie western basin ice fishing guide - is pumped up about this week’s cold weather.

And his hope is that sub-freezing temperatures will continue through the next week as well. Such conditions will bolster the lake’s ice-making duties.

“I heard that the western basin has a skim of ice and the Miller ferry ran until just after Christmas,” said Hageman who uses South Bass Island’s Put-in-Bay as his jumping-off point.

“It’s finally looking like it might happen, especially since we’re going to get cold,” Hageman said.

The big question is what will happen next week, weather wise. A warm up will delay ice production while continued cold will see good ice-making conditions, Hageman said.

Typically the western basin’s ice fishing season begins around mid-January, Hageman said.

Hageman said also that ice fishing for walleye should be “fair” this season but not much more.

“It won’t be outstanding because we’ve been taking out of that large 2003 class. But the fish are big and that will make a lot of fishermen happy. We also have fish from the 2007 hatch and many of these fish became legal size this past summer. I know a lot of guys don’t like them that small but if they are the only game in town that’s what you go for,” Hageman said.

As for yellow perch this fishing, this angling likewise should be fair. Which is due to a respectable - though not super-abundant - population of yellow perch, Hageman said.

“The perch have seemed to have done better due to more stable weather during this species’ spawn,” Hageman said.

Hageman said also that he’s received fewer inquiries about bookings though that could change with the formation of good ice.

“In my case I don’t need all that many people, just enough to replace the ones I lost due to the economy. There’s plenty of work to go around,” he said.

For information about ice fishing with Hageman, contact him at 419-285-2029.

A roster of licensed Ohio Lake Erie fishing guides is available by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Ice Fishing Guide, Outdoors, The News-Herald, 7085 Mentor Ave., Willoughby, Ohio 44094.

The self-addressed stamped envelope is required or the request cannot be processed.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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