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GO-HIO | Ice fishing on Portage Lakes

Lakes across Ohio continue to freeze over with arctic air pushing south. Ice is never 100% safe, so an ice fishing expert gave us tips to mitigate the risk.

PORTAGE LAKES, Ohio — It's ice fishing season now that strong arctic blasts have frozen over many of our lakes across Northeast Ohio, including parts of Lake Erie. Once new, clear ice has thickened beyond four inches in depth, it is generally safe enough to walk upon. However, ice is never 100% safe. The thickness can vary greatly across even a small body of water.

There are ways to make an ice fishing trip safer if you have decided to take the risk. We teamed up with an ice fishing expert named Carl (also a 3News photographer) to learn what we can do to mitigate our risk of falling through the ice.


  • Check ice thickness (need at least 4" of new, clear ice)
    • Clear ice has fewer impurities and is thus stronger than cloudy ice
  • Bring a buddy or buddies with you -- also leave a plan for a friend or family member at home with an estimated time of return
  • Bring picks to help you hoist yourself out of the water in case of an emergency
  • Fish in an area where other anglers are present
  • For any valuables that must be kept dry, bring resealable plastic bags
  • Bring a life vest in case of emergency
  • If ice begins to crack and break, lay flat to distribute your weight
  • Avoid a channel of water that is known for moving water -- the ice may be thinner here

For more safety tips from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, tap HERE.


We drilled two holes in the ice, one for Carl and one for me.

Credit: WKYC

There's only so much you can do with a limited amount of space. Bring live bait or an spinner because any movement should help to attract fish because movement may be harder to come by during the winter months along the bottom of the lake.

Credit: WKYC

We caught three fish, mainly bluegill. Many birds stand around to watch because they cannot get the fish themselves with the ice.

Credit: WKYC

For bait and supply information, we visited the Pipe Rack tackle and bait shop in Akron. They suggest you bring cleats for traction on the ice, and picks to help hoist yourself up in case of a water accident.

-Matt Standridge, WKYC Meteorologist


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