Ice fishing has begun in earnest in the last week in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, but that applies only to inland lakes, impoundments, and farm ponds.
Western Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair remain problematic, with recent winds and heavy snow cover impeding development of stable fishing conditions.
"I think we are going to need a few more good cold days and see how this wind shakes out," summed Travis Hartman about Lake Erie prospects. He is a fisheries biologist at the Ohio Division of Wildlife's Sandusky station.
Early on, fishing on the big lake will be safer using airboats and licensed guides, Hartman noted. The state's station at Sandusky can provide a list of guides to contact by calling 419-625-8062, or visit online at ohiodnr.com.
Ice usually locks in earliest and best on the west side of South Bass Island out to Green and Rattlesnake islands, but always check ahead with local ice veterans before venturing out on foot, snowmobile, or four-wheeler.
Up at Mitchell's Bay on the Ontario side of Lake St. Clair, wind also has slowed ice-making and only a little ice fishing traffic started this week, said Cathy Shaw at Bass Haven there. Yellow perch and panfish are the game at Mitchell's Bay. Bass Haven updates conditions on its Web site at basshavencanada.com.
Perhaps the best conditions in the region are in southeast Michigan's Irish Hills lakes, according to a report from Jim Knutson of Knutson's Recreational Sales at Brooklyn, Mich.
"Devils is wicked good, Sand is good, and so is Clark," Knutson said of his top picks. He is reporting catches of "tons of crappies, good ones," evenings at Clark Lake. Sand and Devils are producing plenty of bluegills in 12 to 15 feet of water. Devils also is producing some northern pike and a few perch. Some walleye are being taken, Knutson said, "but it's not strong."
Ohio's popular Lake La Su An chain of lakes in Williams County has opened to ice fishing on Thursdays and Sundays, and action is so good that the season may be brief, according to Larry Goedde, fish management supervisor for Ohio Wildlife District 2. Ice there is at least seven inches thick and solidly made.
"Anglers have done real well, " he stated, "so we should reach our [winter] quota in a short time span." Reservations are taken Monday mornings at the La Su An check-station by calling 419-636-6189, except next week, when call-in is set for Tuesday.
Anglers have been using standard panfish fare - ice flies tipped with waxworms and wigglers," Goedde said. He added that area farm ponds should be similarly productive, and upground water-supply reservoirs should be fishable for yellow perch as well. Oxbow Lake in Defiance County is another inland bet in the region.
The Sertoma Club's 35th annual charity big-game dinner is set for next Friday at American Legion Post 468, 5580 North Centennial Rd., with social hour beginning at 6 p.m. and at 7 p.m. Proceeds benefit speech-impaired children and adults. Among outdoors raffle and auction items this year are offerings by Maumee Bay Carvers Tim Kucera, a pair of ring-necked duck decoys, and Jeff Thomas, a carved feather. Only limited tickets will be available at the door, so call in advance to Ned Plummer, 419-478-6854.
Gregory Clair, 55, formerly of Bowling Green and a nationally known wildlife artist, died unexpectedly Jan. 8 in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he had made his home since last year.
Clair burst into the wildlife art scene in a major way when he won the Ohio wetlands habitat or duck stamp art competition for the 1991 duck stamp with a rendering of a greater scaup, or bluebill.
He repeated as state stamp winner in 2006 with a rendering of a northern pintail, and finished as a finalist or semifinalist several times in the competition.
He was the Ohio Ducks Unlimited Artist of the year in 2002 and 2007, was its sponsor-print artist in 1999, 2005, and 2007, and painted the Buckmasters 2007 print of the year.
In 2004 he finished fourth in the federal duck stamp art competition, and he was the feature-print artist in 2007 of the South Carolina Waterfowl Association.
He was active as a member and contributing artist in DU, Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation, Quail Unlimited, Ruffed Grouse Society, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and American Horse World.
Born in Toledo, he is survived by a daughter, three sons, a stepdaughter, a sister, and five grandchildren.
Services were yesterday in Bowling Green, through Dunn Funeral Home, with burial in Oak Grove Cemetery. Tributes in the form of contributions can be made to the Gregory G. Clair Fund in care of Huntington Bank.
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