Ice fishermen’s eyes —or at least those not glued to March Madness basketball — will be focused on the weather this weekend as a winter storm watch is in effect for the Black Hills area, a storm that may signal the end of ice fishing for the season. Or at least, make the endeavor most unpleasant as another snow cover coupled with warmer temps to follow will make a mess of the ice surfaces as edges deteriorate and slush develops elsewhere.
Regardless, storm or not, mid-March is typically a time when extra caution and common sense need to accompany every venture on to ice.
For those who like to think ahead warm weather and plan accordingly, this Saturday is the first day to make campsite and cabin reservations for Father’s Day weekend. Reservations may be made at www.CampSD.com or by calling 1-800-710-camp (2267) beginning at 6 a.m. (MDT) on Saturday. The preceding applies to all state parks that take reservations except Custer State Park which accepts reservations as much as one year before arrival.
Angostura Reservoir: Right place/right time seems to be the key to catching walleye at present. Once group reported limits of 18-20 inch walleyes caught while other anglers are coming up empty. Fathead minnows on jigs worked with buckshot spoons that rattle seem to be the right prescription for success. Or, at least, when success is to be had. Ice conditions are deteriorating especially long shores though still 6-8 inches in middle sections.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): Recent weather conditions have brought fishing to a standstill, a situation that may very well continue into open water season as edges are breaking up and surfaces may soon be unsafe elsewhere.
Black Hills Fly Fishing: Warmer temperatures have spiked activity at lower elevations of Black Hills area streams. Morning midge hatches, nymph and streamers, and a steadily improving dry fly fishing scenario is on tap.
Deerfield Reservoir: Perch bite, including some nice catches in the 10-13 inch range, continues. Most of the larger fish are being caught in deeper water — 35-45 feet — on red spikes tipped with a small tear-drop jig. Gold Run activity slowed a bit last week though Dutchman area remained very productive. Also, some nice brook trout in the 14-15 inch range have been showing up on powerbait.
Lakota Lake: Northern pike in the 2-6 pound range remain active. Also a few rainbow trout, including a specimens in the 16-inch range, have been caught on powerbait.
Pactola Reservoir: Lakers remain the main order of business at Pactola with shiners and smelt the baits of choice. Also, a steady bluegill bite — on wax worms — is in progress in south end bays particularly near the boat launch area.
Roubaix Lake: No reports this week though trout have been active recently on red spikes and wax worms.
Sheridan Lake: Northern pike slowed last week though a few perch were showing up on occasion. The fish, mostly small, are deep and responding to red maggots and wax worms. Rumor has it that a few walleye were caught as well.
Lake Oahe: As elsewhere in central South Dakota, cold and/or snowy weather has limited fishing activity. On a positive note, it is mid-March and more fishable weather should be right around the corner.
Lake Sharpe: Lots of open water from dam south though inclement weather continues to deter angler interest.
Lake Francis Case: Open water below Big Bend Dam and in the immediate Chamberlain area have been home to some boat launches recently though no reports of fishing success.
Dakota Angler & Outfitter, 513 Seventh St., Rapid City; The Rooster, 1441 W. Main St., Rapid City; Wheel and Bait, 18696 Fisherman’s Road, Fruitdale; West Prairie Resort, 28354 182nd, Pierre (605-264-5303), and Angostura State Resort have contributed to this report.