BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
PUT-IN-BAY, OHIO — Put-in-Bay is a sleepy village in early spring, but this year there are special vibes in the air around Lake Erie’s South Bass Island. While the popular tourism destination struggled last year because of Covid-19 and its restrictions, a positive attitude has permeated the many businesses as they prepare for the 2021 summer season.
“You can feel the excitement,” said Julene Market, whose family operates the Miller Ferry Line that brings cars, trucks, goods and lots and lots of visitors to South Bass and Middle Bass islands. “With the vaccinations (for Covid-19) in full swing, and state and federal officials working hard to get a handle on the pandemic, people are ready to get out and enjoy themselves with a trip to the islands once again.
“Our phone lines gave been ringing off the hook, with people wanting to know what is open. The easiest way to find out is to access the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce web site, visitputinbay.com, or the Miller Ferry web site, millerferry.com.”
Market said that a handful of businesses are already open, and more will join them at the beginning of April. The Reel Bar will open this week, followed by The Forge. Frosty’s Bar will open at the end of April.
E’s Put-in-Bay Golf Carts at the Lime Kiln Dock on the south end of the island is open, and the bus that ferries visitors from the Lime Kiln dock to downtown will begin operating in mid-April.
Market said the Ottawa County Department of Health has been very helpful getting island residents and workers ready for the summer season. The OCDH brought a group of medical officials to the island recently to make sure islanders were vaccinated for Covid-19.
Miller Ferry customers must remember to bring face covering and observe self-distancing rules while in the passengers terminals and on one of the Miller Ferry Line boats, a federal requirement.
“Many of the bars and restaurants expanded last year by developing patios and outdoor seating, because of the pandemic rules,” said Market. “Those facilities will help people to follow the rules.”
The island has many walking, biking and nature trails to enjoy at this time of year, and a lot of shoreline to enjoy. Fishermen are already arriving on the island by ferry, towing their smaller boats on trailer to get a head start on the walleye fishing that has been forecast on and around the reefs and islands.
Charting fishing operations have battled some windy weather of late, but when the anglers can target the reefs, lots of walleye are already being caught.