In the Great Lakes, unfrozen areas can be the result of currents as in the Straights of Mackinaw, St. Mary's River, Detroit River, Niagara River and a few others. Industries and lake shore power plants discharge heated water in other areas. There can be wind-driven openings in the ice similar to pressure ridges that occur on inland lakes.
The U.S. Coast Guard operates a fleet of ice-breaker vessels on the Great Lakes. There's our tax dollars at work! In some areas tug boats and other vessels do ice breaker duty to keep industrial harbors in action.
Will this have an affect on the fishing next season? Maybe a late start to the action.... Maybe it will drive more fish down to MY end of the lake.... Hope so! There's only one way to find out. The fun way. Let's go fishing !