With the month of March’s proverbial lion creeping in quietly, hungry fish supposedly on the prowl, and the prospect of better access to lakes and streams in the offing, this should be a good week to take to the ice before the busy month of March cuts into available spare time. After all, busy weeks of high school and college basketball are coming up in March as is the arrival of spring, and the disappearance of ice.
Statistically, March is the least productive month for the nation’s businesses — blame March Madness for that — so might as well take to the ice while conditions allow.
Whatever lies ahead will likely be an improvement over last week when snow cover coupled with slushy buildups below the white stuff left ice fishermen muttering. Ideal ice fishing weather beckons and here are some area locations where fishing activity looks to be most promising.
Reminder: The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) reminds ice anglers that all fish houses, shelters and other structures must have been removed from the ice by midnight on Wednesday. Fish houses, shelters and other structures may be used after Wednesday but must be removed from the ice on a daily basis.
Angostura Reservoir: Though still spotty, a few walleye were caught last week. Working jigs and minnows at depths of 20-30 feet is the best bet for success.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): Hardly any fishing activity on the lake last week as snow drifts on land on ice made access to the lake all but impossible. Days of sunshine this week should allow for better access particularly this weekend with temperatures are predicted to move into the 40s.
Black Hills Fly Fishing: With temps predicted to move back into the 30s —and higher on the weekend — trout activity in Black Hills area streams should see an upsurge particularly more accessible locations at lower elevations. While nymphing has been the big action producer of late, good dry fly fishing opportunities should pick up with midge hatches resulting from warmer weather.
Deerfield Reservoir: Perch activity had made up most of the fishing activity with the Gold Run area the busiest location. Wax worms and red maggots worked in 30-40 feet of water have been the ticket. Lake trout seemed to have moved into shallower waters — 20-30 feet of water.
Pactola Reservoir: Steady lake trout and perch bites continue, and a few northern pike have been showing up as well. The perch and pike activity has been largely confined to the north and south dock areas, most likely because of ease of access. Golden shiners are working best for pike, and wax worms for perch. As is typically the case, lakers are deep (60-80 feet of water) and responding to shiners or smelt.
Sheridan Lake: Though plenty of perch were caught during the weekend “Hooked on Hardwater” fishing tournament, the bite can be very erratic with a mix of on and off days the norm. A few small pike are being caught on occasion as well and some nice-sized rainbows in the 17-18 inch range.
Stockade Lake: A few northern pike were picked up last week on golden shiners.
Sylvan and Horsethief Lakes: Trout bite has picked up at both locations. Red spikes seem to be the bait of choice.
Lake Oahe: Walleye activity has been picking up at the mouth of the Cheyenne River, and northern pike are beginning to cruise under the ice seeking vegetation for spring spawning.
Lake Sharpe: Not a lot of activity last week due to weather conditions though a few boats were sighted near the bridges--open water below the dam extends nearly to De Grey at present. West Bend and Joe Creek areas have been producing walleye, mostly small, through the ice.
Lake Francis Case: No activity reported nor activity observed over the weekend.
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.