The ice fishing season is winding down on western Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair as warming temperatures and recent strong winds combine to put the hurt on optimum ice conditions in prime fishing areas.
The surface of Lake St. Clair at Mitchell's Bay, Ont., is melting under sunshine and warming temperatures, said Cathy Shaw at Bass Haven there. She said that some fishermen were out yesterday but activity is down to a day-to-day basis because of continued predicted warming. Best bet, call ahead, 519-354-4242.
At South Bass Island on western Lake Erie, Pat Chrysler has been using his airboat this week to ferry out small parties of fishermen. “You couldn't do anything wrong Tuesday,” he said of some of the best action and most aggressive walleye of the season. Action yesterday was slow under sunshine and much faster under clouds.
Chrysler said that cold weather predicted for the end of next week might prolong his season, if rain in between does not finish off the ice. Yesterday his customers were fishing on 12 inches of ice, but Chrysler said that warming weather and possible rain over the weekend makes it a day-to-day call. He can be reached at 419-285-4631.
John Hageman, another South Bass guide, said he has closed his camp for the season, given that he does not have an airboat to ferry customers.
“Last Friday night was particularly tough on the ice between the islands,” Hageman said. Winds overnight topped 50 mph, resulting in the movement of ice shelves and overlapping of some “insurmountable shoves.” He had to pull shanties on the “wrong side” of a crack and cancel last weekend's clients.
Rain with last weekend's front also eroded several inches of ice off the top. Hageman added that ice along the mainland was finished by last Thursday because of thinning, and it flushed through South Passage, between South Bass and Catawba Island peninsula during the big winds on Friday night. Only shelf ice was left off Catawba and Marblehead.
Some additional big buck news has filtered in since seasons' end, and is worth noting, inasmuch as deer hunters already gearing up for the 2004 Ohio Deer and Turkey Expo in Columbus March 19-21. More on the Expo in a later column, but the following items are worth a look now:
Heather Martin, a Butler County hunter, took a huge, 19-point nontypical buck with her muzzleloader and should see her name in six record books as a result, notes Ron Perrine, Sr., an official scorer in Xenia, Ohio.
It was Martin's first deer on her first hunt. “It is the largest taken by a woman to the best of my knowledge,” said Perrine. The antlers scored 202-2/8 green toward Boone & Crockett, Longhunter, and Buckeye Big Buck Club records, 221-4/8 final score in the North American Whitetail system, 223-3/8 green toward World Classics records, and 202-7/8 final for the Buckmaster record book.
Green score refers to the total measurement before a set of antlers has dried for at least 60 days. Most antlers shrink somewhat in drying.
Bob Schabel of Jerusalem Township took a dandy 15-point buck in Warren County in southwest Ohio during the shotgun season. The antlers have a 203/4–inch spread and recently were scored at 160-1/8, well within the scores needed to qualify for the Buckeye Big Buck Club. Schabel said he was hunting alone on private land on opening day in the southwest county when he got his chance.
It was his first buck. His buddies call him “New Guy.”
Last and not least is 12-year-old Rob Heberling, son of Jamie and Bill Heberling of Fremont. He took his first deer during the special Ohio youth gun-hunt in January at Mosquito Creek State Wildlife Area in northeast Ohio.
The young hunter, supervised afield by Billy Oberdorf of Fremont, used his new 20-gauge to good effect. He bagged an 11-point buck weighing some 200 pounds. Its antlers have a 21-inch spread.
Thursday through Sunday - Ford Field Camper, Travel, and RV Show, Ford Field, downtown Detroit; call 1-800-328-6550 or visit www.FordFieldRVShow.com.
Thursday and Friday - Public trap and skeet shooting, 5 p.m., United Conservation and Outdoor Association of Hancock County, Township Road 243 north of U.S. 224, east of Findlay, Thursday shoots practice, Friday shoots practice plus protection trap; call Don Borkosky, 419-427-4236.
Saturday - Sandusky River Chapter, Whitetails Unlimited, annual fund-raising dinner, social hour 5 p.m., dinner, 6:30 p.m. followed by auctions and raffles, American Legion Post 121, 2000 Buckland Ave., Fremont; call Keith Kralik for tickets, 419-355-8510.
Saturday - Tying smallmouth bass, pike, and muskie flies with Brian Meszaros, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Cabela's, west of U.S. 23, Dundee, Mich.; call the store, 734-529-4700.
Sunday - Leap Day walk, 1 p.m., White Star Park, trail by the tracks, Sandusky County Road 65 just east of State Rt. 300, Gibsonburg; to register call the Sandusky County Park District, 419-334-4495 or 1-888-200-5577.