By Shelly Wiebe
The ideal weather conditions of consistent below freezing temperatures have gifted local anglers with what most would consider an early ice fishing season.
Having recently taken ownership of the former Grangers Ice fishing, Brad Woodward has renamed and revamped the business, just in time for what is proving to the be one of the best ice fishing seasons we have seen in this area for a few years.
“We took our first clients out on December 30th,” says Brad. “Normally we don’t see the Inner Bay freeze til mid-January.”
Brad Woodward is well known for his knowledge of the Inner Bay and Lake Erie. Having grown up in the area, he has been fishing these waters his whole life.
Owner and powerboat specialist of Woodward Marine, Brad has been fixing boats for close to three decades. As well as guiding for other local ice fishing businesses such as Jimmies, Ackers and Bayside, it was a natural progression for him to purchase Grangers — which had been for sale for a few years.
“There are no boats to fix in the winter, so making the move to owning an ice fishing business just seemed like the right step to keep busy all year long,” says Brad.
Woodward’s Ice Fishing offers its clients a worry-free day on the Bay by providing a choice between two, four and six-person heated huts. Brad said that they can accommodate larger parties upon request.
For $50 per person, a guide transports the group to its location where they start a fire in the woodstove, drill your holes, and provide an unlimited supply of minnows and advice. Throughout the day, you are checked on to ensure your bait supply doesn’t run low and your fire stays warm.
“Ice fishing is a great sport because it allows people without a boat, a chance to stock their freezers with some Lake Erie perch and pike,” says Brad, who adds that he considers ice fishing better then boat fishing because its easier to hit the limit your license allows.
“The water is colder, so the fish are in the Bay. You just have to be in the right spot.” Brad also considers the fish to taste better in the winter saying that pike especially have a better diet in the colder months, making them much tastier.
With the past few winters producing little ice, Brad says it’s been busy, just as he expected.
“During the week we see probably 75% locals but on the weekends its mostly out-of-town visitors. It’s great to see first timers come out and have such a great experience that they are back the next weekend,” says Brad.
Predictions of a long cold winter have ice fishers elated but Brad says it is up to Mother Nature and encourages people to get out on the ice while the ice is good.