Ice fishermen in West Michigan have not had a normal season for getting out on the hard water to ice fish. I had to drive all the way to Cadillac to find some safe ice.

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Not the Normal West Michigan Winter

Normally this far into January, there is usually ice on inland lakes and even some on Lake Michigan. That has not been the case for West Michigan for 2023.

A sign warns of danger as ice thaws on a pond in southern Wisconsin.
wakr10/ThinkStock/GettyStock
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Lakes started to freeze in December of 2022 but rain and warmer temperatures have washed away the beginning of lakes icing up a couple of times. If this keeps up, there will be no ice fishing for West Michigan unless you drive further north.

No Safe Ice in Newaygo County Yet for 2023

I live in Newaygo County and last 4 years I had ice-fished several times by now, even in areas of moving water. The Hardy Pond has iced over several times with rain and warm temperatures melting it away.

Rob Sullivan/Townsquare Media of the Hudson Valley/ThinkStock/GettyStock
Rob Sullivan/Townsquare Media of the Hudson Valley/ThinkStock/GettyStock
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My son and I decided to drive north on 37 to check a few lakes in Newaygo County before heading even further north in search of safe ice.

Oliver Morin/AFP via Getty Images
Oliver Morin/AFP via Getty Images
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We stopped by Diamond Lake and yes there was some ice, maybe 2 inches, and water around the edges. I could see where someone had hopped on the lake and drilled a test hole but even that looked too scary to venture out on. We did see something that seemed dangerous, there was one guy fishing the lake. He pushed a boat out on the ice and was sitting in the boat ice fishing over the side. I don't recommend anyone try that idea.

We drove by several lakes on our way to 55 to see if there was ice in Cadillac and kept finding nothing but open water.

Safe Ice in Cadillac Michigan for Ice Fishing

I had read about Cadillac and Mitchel Lakes in Cadillac as being some of the best lakes to ice fish in the state. When my son and I pulled into town on 55 it looked like small cities of ice fishermen on both lakes.

Portland Press Herald/Getty Images
Portland Press Herald/Getty Images
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Don't get me wrong, both lakes had a few areas of open water but those spots were at the canal openings where both lakes are connected. There was also open water where creeks emptied into both bodies of water.

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
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Mon son and I drove up to Cadillac on Saturday and Sunday. On both days most areas we were on Cadillac Lake had 4 to 5 inches of ice with about an inch of snow crust on top. We didn't get on Mitchel Lake but saw snowmobiles, ATVs, and even some motorcycles riding around the lake. I wouldn't be comfortable with my ATV sitting next to me but on Sunday we did bring our 100-pound fishing shack with us.

Tommy Carroll/TSM
Tommy Carroll/TSM
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I got a nice crappie on a wax worm the first day we were out but unfortunately, that was the last fish that day. We did see some nice pike that was caught on tip-ups and a few guys with small bags of fish. Most of the guys we ran into were from further downstate doing what we were, just looking for some ice to fish on. We did a little better on Sunday catching half a dozen perch.

So if you want to get out and icefish, it looks like you have to travel to Cadillac, Michigan, or further north if you want to get your fix of hard water.

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