After a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend spent relaxing, doing plenty of eating, and spending time reflecting on how appreciative and thankful we are here at Sport Fish Michigan, it’s back to reality with dropping temperatures following the weekend’s spring-like weather. In fact, several places experienced lows in the single digits Monday night.
Temperatures reaching into the low 40's here in northern Michigan melted most of the snow that had built up, and it felt positively nice out! This didn’t help the formation of ice on the area’s lakes, but it didn’t do too much to melt what ice had formed on many inland lakes to date. The current cold will freeze many of the smaller lakes. Temperatures expected in the low 30's for the next week or so should really help form ice at night, and keep it throughout the day. While the ice is still not thick enough to safely venture out onto, more and more lakes are beginning to freeze over. For the most part, it’s the smaller, shallower lakes that have ice.
In Glen Arbor, Little Glen Lake remains frozen, but its larger brother, Big Glen Lake, is completely open with only a little bit of slushy ice in the shallows. Spider Lake, east of Traverse City, has ice and slush on its shoreline, but the main lake is still wide open. Skim ice formed over the last couple of days in many of the shallow bays that Spider Lake is known for. Long Lake, just south of Traverse City, is completely open. There is slush floating in the shallow waters of Long Lake, and some of the shallow back bays are skimmed over. To the west of Traverse City, North Lake Leelanau and South Lake Leelanau are both open water lakes right now, and the narrows that separates them is skimmed over. Both Leelanau lakes also have slushy ice in the shallows.
Duck Lake, near Interlochen State Park, is completely open, but water temperatures are 33 degrees. The recent cold couple of nights created skim ice floating in the shallows. The same can be said for Duck Lake’s neighbor, Green Lake.
Near Frankfort and Beulah, Loon Lake, inside the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, is completely frozen over. Similarly, Little Platte Lake is also completely frozen over, and this shallow panfish lake has close to 3 inches covering it. It won’t be long before it’s safe to venture out onto the ice to fish. Crystal lake is also wide open. Betsie Bay, which is a fantastic pike fishery among other things, has slush and skim ice in parts, but being so close to the open waters of Lake Michigan, it’s still mostly open.
Further south and inland are lakes Cadillac and Mitchell. Both are frozen over, and this has ice anglers itching to get out. One report has close to 3 inches of ice on Lake Mitchell, however this has not been verified. The DNR has issued warnings that despite the ice coverage on these very popular ice-fishing lakes, venturing out onto the ice is very risky at present, and all activities on the ice should be avoided.
With the below-freezing night-time temperatures in the near forecast, it won’t be long before we have full ice and will be out ice fishing! Early ice should always be treated with extreme caution, and while the thrills of the rewards that early ice fishing can yield, no fish is worth risking one’s life over.