'Gone fishin' - Arctic temps lure fishermen to Lake Erie

Late start to Lake Erie ice fishing season

Tim Wenger
January 20, 2019 - 8:31 pm

WBEN Photo/Tim Wenger


Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - Nothing demonstrates the heartiness of Buffalonians and Western New Yorkers like the small sea of tents that dot the outer harbor and house enthusiastic ice fishermen. 

As the mercury dropped to levels deemed sub-human to most, a flock of fishermen began to arrive midday Sunday along the shoreline of Safe Harbor Marina off Outer Harbor Boulevard.  One by one these determined anglers emerged from their vehicles with sleds full of gear and made their way down the boat launch to test the thickness of the newly formed ice.

With the thickness seemingly too thin and breaking in spots, fishermen wandered out on the docks of the marina which extend far enough to thicker ice.  In place of boats tied up at slips, tents fill the spaces and contain fishermen hoping for a bountiful catch.

"Two inches I'll walk on it, four inches I'll 'ride' on it and six inches I'll drive a truck on it", said Mike Bannister of Woodlawn as he took gear from his car to head down to the ice for a day of fishing.  Bannister has been ince fishing for years and tells WBEN 'clear ice' is trouble and he pointed to another outdoorsman punching his leg through the thin ice near the boat ramp endge.  Dark black ice is what Bannister says ice fishermen are looking for as it represents a solid freeze.

Despite the bitter cold that overspread the region Sunday, the relatively warm waters of Lake Erie have not yet frozen over and areas with a solid ice cover are sparse.

It's not so much about the fish he'll catch during this visit to the ice as he brought his two children for their first ice fishing experience. 

Mason, 10 years old, was dressed more like he was ready for the sled hill than fishing and said, "it's out first time ice fishing and we're hoping to just catch some fish".

With the frigid temperatures settling in, ice fishermen will soon be able to venture further than the Buffalo shoreline as the thickness of the ice will be inviting well offshore and over deeper waters.  Ice fishing continues to increase in popularity in New York according to the Department of Environental Conservation and the ice cover allows anglers to get to fishing locations that require a boat for access in warmer weather.

Ice fishing tents dot Safe Harbor Marina - WBEN Photo/Tim Wenger


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