After a very mild and some would even say warm start to winter, the recent stretch of colder air is starting to quickly add depth to the ice on inland lakes with pancake ice forming on the Great Lakes as the water temperature falls below 32F.
I made a few calls around the region to check out ice conditions on a few area lakes. Mike at the Hunt and Fish Shop in Curtis in western Mackinac County told me that ice conditions on the Big Manistique Lakes and others nearby are great. The -17F degree temperatures there Thursday morning certainly helping. Recent ice depths range from 12-16" in spots which is a jump from even a week or two ago.
While it has been cold in Northern Lower Michigan, Tom at Tom's Bait and Tackle in East Jordan said that while Lake Charlevoix has at least 7" of ice in spots, the recent foot of lake effect snow has caused slushy conditions and some "bad ice" there as the snow has almost insulated the ice. He said most folks that are fishing there are still on foot as the ice is shaky at times. He also told me that any warming trend heading into next week would help as it would melt some of the slush off the surface of the lake.
Meanwhile, Houghton Lake seems to be in fine shape. After a warm start to winter, the folks at Lyman's On the Lake told me that the ice thickness is close to a foot (12") with pretty good fishing which should bode well for the second weekend of Tip Up Town coming up.
Meanwhile, on the Great Lakes some pancake ice has formed on some of the area bays that have not had any ice so far. Much of Saginaw Bay along with the Straits region has iced over per satellite imagery/analysis along with the Lake Huron shoreline.
It appears the cold spell is over for a few days starting late this weekend with highs this weekend in the 20's, 30's Monday and around 40F in spots Tuesday with rain showers.