Jim Morris
Jim Morris

Jim Morris has worked for newspapers, radio, television and various Websites for more than 47 years. He has been a writer, an editor, an editorial writer and a columnist. For 23 years, Morris worked for the Troy Daily News as sports editor, managing editor and executive editor. In 1994 he began working at the Dayton Daily News as an outdoor sports columnist and night sports desk editor. He retired from the DDN in January of 2010 and is now a freelance writer with his own Website for outdoors stories.

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Want to try ice fishing? Here are some tips to get you started.

I had a call the other day, asking me about ice fishing. The caller recently moved to this area from the Southeast and wanted to know the best way to be prepared when Ohio freezes over.

As I told him, there are different ways to ice fish. Ice fishing on Lake Erie is a great deal different from ice fishing on Lake Loramie. You use different equipment, and it’s a totally different experience.

Just quickly touching on Lake Erie, there are many different areas of the lake that freeze enough to support an ice fishing season and different charter services that do pretty much everything for you. They just haul you out to a heated shanty, and it’s time to start fishing. They cut the hole into the ice. You just bait your hook and fish.

You will have to go online to find ice charter services. Some work from the mainland, others from Put-In-Bay. I always liked that spot off of the west side of South Bass Island.

I’d rather talk local ice fishing. Here are tips to get started:

• First of all, never, never go ice fishing alone. It’s best if you can find someone who has ice fished before. He or she will have some know-how and possibly some equipment.

• Before you can even think about the actual fishing, you’ll need the right equipment. Stop by a bait shop near you to pick up rods, reels, line, hooks, jigs, bait, ice auger (manual or power), bait bucket, ice ladle and fishing license. You could buy a shanty, but you might want to take that step later. You have to decide if you are going to use an electronic fish finder or just Lady Luck. If you go with electronics, then how will you power them? More than likely, you are going to need a sled to carry all your equipment and to sit on once you have drilled your hole and are ready to fish.

• You have to dress correctly, no matter where you fish. You need two sets of warm clothing (one to leave in your car). You should dress in layers with wicking materials underneath. Good long underwear is a must, topped with wool pants and shirt. If you have coveralls to go over that, pile ’em on. Wear wool socks with waterproof boots. Get some rated for well below zero. Top it all off with a face mask and a stocking cap (preferably one with a Buckeyes logo on it!).

• Wear a life jacket or float coat. This is mandatory.

• Some things you should carry include a pair of screwdrivers (tied around your neck, for pulling yourself out of cold water), a whistle and a cellphone in a waterproof bag. It’s always a good idea to grab some strap-on ice cleats, making it much easier to walk on any icy surface.

• Make sure you leave a plan with someone, saying where and when you’ll be fishing.

• Any bait shop near where you pick to fish should be able to give you local information, like where they are biting and, more importantly, where ice is thin or there is still open water.

• I came across the following ice thickness guide: If it’s under 4 inches, stay away. Four to 5 inches of new ice can bear foot activities (like ice fishing). Five to 7 inches is fine for an ATV or snowmobile, 8 to 12 inches for a small vehicle and over 12 inches for average-sized pickups.

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