Ice fishing concerns as weekend warm up is on the way

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PORT CLINTON, Ohio (WTVG) - A walk on the beach takes on a new meaning this time of year on the shores of Lake Erie. Instead of sand and waves, they're full of ice and snow; a perfect winter scenario for local fisherman.

Friday, about a dozen people ventured out from Catawba State Park near Port Clinton. It's a popular place to grab a spot on the ice.

"Since we just had this cold snap this past week, the lake has started to freeze up," Marc Wolfe, store manager at the Fisherman's Wharf, said. "These guys out here are sitting on 6 to 8 inches of ice."

Several shanties were set up just off of the shore and even more could be in place this weekend as temperatures are expected to rise.

"Today, we're standing out here [it's] 14 degrees and 48 hours from now it's supposed to be 50," Wolfe said.

Wolfe is the store manager at the Fisherman's Wharf, a bait and tackle shop in downtown Port Clinton. He says safety on the ice, especially on the lake is paramount.

"It's great to get fishing. Everyone has cabin fever, nothing going on this winter until now, but sometimes it's not the best to be the first person out there," he said.

"A lot of the guys that are out there now are locals and they're from the area and are very familiar with the ice," Eric Langermeier said. "If this is your first time on Lake Erie ice fishing, this isn't the time for you to come up."

Langermeier, a charter captain at the Wharf, says there was open water just a day or so ago. He adds that even if it looks solid, there are pockets of ice that could be dangerous.

"It doesn't matter how thick the ice is that water is going to come up and break it," Langermeier told 13abc. "It's really not safe anywhere. You've got to really know what you're looking for to be safe out there."

That message is particularly important as temperatures are expected to rise this weekend, possibly hitting or going above 50 degrees.

In the meantime, experienced fisherman are urging everyone to err on the side of caution before heading out.

"Just take your time and talk to everyone out here and figure out what's going on," Wolfe said.

"Reach out to any of the guides up here or any of the bait shops. No bait shop is going to put you in danger," Langermeier added.