Ferry lines provide the bulk of the transportation for people and goods from the mainland of Ohio to the island of South Bass better known as Put in Bay. My favorite Put in Bay Ferry is run by the Miller Boat Line.
The lines beginning was around 1905 when William M Miller and Harry Jones started an ice business and bought an 18 foot wooden boat to deliver ice to the vessels anchored in the bay.
As the popularity of Put in Bay grew Miller expanded his fleet to six charter boats to accommodate the fishermen and included a small fleet of water taxis to shuttle people around the bay.
In the mid 1940’s the Millers saw the need for a safe reliable ferry system from the mainland to Put in Bay. This was the forerunner of the modern fleet of ferries.
The current fleet consists of four ferries. The Islander, the South Bass, the William Market and the Put in Bay. Each of these vessels is capable of carrying approximately 500 people plus vehicles. The ferries run from Catawba Island on the mainland to Put in Bay on a regular schedule from March through November with the early and late schedules being weather dependent.
The ride to Put in Bay is unique. You can stand or sit outside on the deck area or be out of the weather inside the cabin area. You will see all the lake activity on your short trip (less than 30 minutes). There will be sail boats, power boats and lots of fishermen. The Lake Erie Islands are one of the best walleye fishing areas in the country.
It seems like a step back in time where people are friendly and happy all the while enjoying mother nature. The loading and unloading is fast and furious at times but once the ferry is underway it’s time to set back and relax. On a sunny day in the summer it is an experience not to be missed.
If your travels bring you to the north coast of Ohio make a special effort to visit Put in Bay by way of the Miller Boat Lines. The cost is low by todays standards so if you are here for the fishing maybe the family can make a day of it on the islands while you are fishing. I guarantee you the family will enjoy it. If you’re just here for the day or the weekend you can still enjoy this trip. During the summer the ferries leave the mainland and the island every 30 minutes so scheduling is not a problem.
Make this an island summer
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