Cold water safety on Lake Erie

cold weather fishing

Cold water safety on Lake Erie is important to having a good day on water.  Whether boating or shore fishing, you need to be prepared for the cold air and water temperature.  Cold weather means big walleye close to shore.  This in return brings out the most fisherman you will see all season.  There are hidden dangers that you need to take into account when boating or shore fishing lake Erie during the early spring and late fall.


Cold Water Boat Safety


Your boat needs to be in working order.  Check to make sure all pumps and circuits are in working order.  Batteries need to be fully charged and hold a good charge.  Cold weather will drain your batteries faster than in the summertime.  The next thing is to make sure you have the proper safety equipment in the boat for Lake Erie.  Good practice is to wear your life jackets at all times when boating in cold weather. Dress for the occasion, base layers with outer garments for the weather. 


Have a Working Marine VHF Radio


Have a good working marine VHF radio, they are submersible and will save your life. Have the radio on and know the Coast Guard’s working channel.  Many areas have local channels that fisherman use, find out what they are and use them. 


Outboard Engine Function in Cold Weather


Make sure your main motor, kicker, and trolling motor are in good working order before you leave the dock.  You don’t want to find out your motor won’t restart in 38-degree water 10 miles from the dock.   Take your time getting to your spot, the fish aren’t going anywhere. 


Lake Erie Shore Fishing Safety


For shore fisherman, the largest concern is hypothermia and ice.  Make sure you have ample lighting to look for ice on the rocks and wear enough clothing.  If the wind has blown recently, rocks may be wet or ice-covered.  Know where your next step will be.  If shore fishing without a railing it may be a good idea to wear an inflatable life jacket.  They are lightweight and slim.


Have a Plan – Use the Buddy System


Always use the buddy system when venturing out during the Winter months on Lake Erie.  The best thing would be to have a couple of boats going out with you and work in the same area.  Talk to people at the docks that will be fishing the same area as you and ask for their contact.  If something happens those people can be contacted.   If fishing from shore, make sure someone knows you are fishing and where.  Have the Coast Guard’s number saved in your phone in the event the radio does not work.