Winter is back, and wow is it back with a vengeance! With temperatures in the low teens during the day and single digit lows for the past week, ice production is in full force. The strong winds have wind chills well below zero, and with the recent blizzard, it’s safe to say that it truly feels wintry out. How’s that for the new year!
The lakes in northern Michigan have fully frozen over, but there isn’t safe ice on all bodies of water just yet. A couple of the larger lakes, like Crystal Lake near Frankfort, as well as lakes close to the Lake Michigan coast have just frozen over, as the big lake moderates temperatures more than most people might think. The high winds have also hindered ice production. Despite ice on just about every other lake, Crystal Lake finally froze completely over just last night. A few ice anglers have ventured out onto the southeastern corner of the lake, where ice has been present for several days.
Just a few miles away, Big Platte Lake is entirely ice covered, and ice is safe due to the very cold nights and days. Big Platte is known for its big walleyes, and anglers are anxious to get out to target these tasty fish.
South and North Lake Leelanau are both ice covered. There are reports of permanent ice shanties on South Leelanau near the Michigan DNR boat launch at Bingham Road. The fishing for both perch and walleye has been pretty good from the reports of things.
Close to Interlochen, Duck Lake and Green Lake are ice covered, and reports are that fishing is decent. These lakes haven’t been frozen for that long, so caution should still be taken.
In the Traverse City area, Long Lake has over 6-7 inches of good clear ice in most spots, and the walleye bite has been very good with lots of flags for tip-up anglers. Spider Lake and Arbutus Lake are also safe to venture out onto and the fishing reports have been favorable.
Even West Grand Traverse Bay had skim ice on it yesterday. Today’s high west winds likely broke that apart, though. Ice anglers are dreaming of a repeat of last year when we were able to fish the frozen bays until late March.
In the Kalkaska area, Fife Lake is frozen solid and anglers have been targeting pike. Manistee Lake also has 6 inches of ice with more on the way.
Hamlin Lake, down in Ludington, has been frozen for a few days and the fishing has been good for pike, walleye and panfish. Some portions have only recently frozen, so caution should be the rule when fishing.
Houghton Lake is ice covered, but the strongest ice has been in the south end, where the hard north winds have pushed the ice.
Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac have lots of safe ice, with 10-12 inches, but fishing reports have been spotty at best, despite the many anglers that have been out. Lake Cadillac has a lot of permanent shanties on it just like normal.
Lake Missaukee, near Lake City, is fishing very well for pike, with over 10 inches of ice in most spots. The Arctic blast has brought that tally to over a foot in some spots.
With temperatures forecasted to remain below the freezing mark for the next week, things look great for having safe ice on all bodies of water. With many lakes sporting over 6 inches, it won’t be long before snowmobiles and ATVs become the common vehicle transporting ice anglers. Generally here at Sport Fish Michigan, we like a little more ice before driving vehicles out onto the ice, but that day should be just around the corner. Take care as always, and stay high and dry!