Theres a definite nip in the air and in the water. Its a chilling shift in weather that many Ohio boaters take as their cue to pull up anchor and put away their boats for the winter.
But not so fast! Numerous boaters know this is an exciting time of the year, when Ohios waterways are less crowded, the fishing is good and duck season is just around the corner.
Fall fishing heats up as water temperatures cool down. Lake Erie, the Ohio River and the states inland waterways offer anglers ample opportunities for quality fishing, from crappie and bluegill to walleye and largemouth bass. Across Ohio, anglers are renewing the chase for trophy muskellunge, casting for the cold-water-loving sauger and catching limits of yellow perch.
Anticipation for the upcoming fall waterfowl season is also building. Waterfowl hunting seasons are set to open October 20 in Ohios North Zone and October 27 in the South Zone. Young hunters will have their own special statewide hunt October 13 and 14.
Anglers and hunters arent the only ones to enjoy fall boating. Many hardy boaters have discovered one of the best ways to see Ohios colorful fall foliage is from the water. Wildlife watchers also find it a great vantage point from which to view migrating waterfowl and other birds.
But whether youre fishing, hunting or into that increasingly popular fall pastime known as leaf peeping, safety on the water is critical, and fall boating presents some unique water conditions. Before your next trip on the water, here are some thoughts to take with you:
- Layer your clothing and dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. While there are likely to be some warm, sunny days yet this year, cooler nights are causing the water temperatures to drop quickly. One of the major causes of boating fatalities is hypothermia the rapid reduction of body temperature, which occurs when boaters fall into cold water. Any water below 70 degrees is considered cold enough to trigger hypothermia.
- You are required by law to have a U.S Coast Guard-approved, wearable life jacket for each person on the boat. Wear your life jacket. If you fall into frigid water your life jacket not only keeps you afloat, it also provides excellent insulation against cold, wind and rain.
- Keep in mind that many inland lakes are drawn down to a winter pool depth, leaving water levels several feet below normal. Previously undetected gravel bars, stumps, rocks and other hazards require boaters to be aware of their surroundings and on the lookout for shallow spots.
- If you are hunting from a small boat, stay seated or kneel when shooting. Standing to fire can throw you off balance, causing you to fall in the water or making the boat capsize.
- Paddling enthusiasts planning to take advantage of a scheduled water release during draw downs should always take extra care. Water discharged from local reservoirs temporarily raises the level of stream water and can create whitewater conditions. Novice boaters should never try to navigate these waters without the accompaniment of an experienced paddler.
- Know the days forecast and stay alert to shifting weather conditions.
- Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return before undertaking any boating excursion. Include information about your vehicle, boat and watercraft registration number. Dont forget to let that person know when you have safely returned.
Autumn is a great time for boating
just boat safely.