Ice on area waters went from a little to a lot over the Christmas holiday. So did cold temperatures, a situation that will hopefully bottom out following this weekend’s single digit highs. Despite the cold weather, ice fishermen have been venturing out on higher elevation lakes seeking out a bite or two, or perhaps more importantly, the unique camaraderie associated with sharing an ice surface with the similarly impassioned. Caution, however, goes hand in hand with camaraderie as quickly forming ice isn’t always safe and ice thickness can be extremely variable. With that in mind, ice picks and flotation gear are strongly recommended particularly until ice conditions are thoroughly tested (rule of thumb is four inches of clear ice for walking, six inches for ATV’s and a minimum of 12 inches for vehicle passage). And don’t forget those ice cleats.
Angostura Reservoir: Ice has formed though ice fishing is advisable only in bays and near shore (extreme caution advised) at present. Cold weekend weather should allow much wider access next week.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): Six inches plus ice reported on the lake as of Wednesday. Christmas related activities have kept ice fishermen off the ice so no reports have been forthcoming. However, anglers were finding plenty of walleye action before the freeze including a nice variety of overs, unders and slot fish, a situation likely to carry over into the new year.
Black Hills Fly Fishing: Simply too cold at present to move the endeavor into the pleasant activity category. Best to wait until temps climb back into 30’s.
Black Hills Lakes: Safe ice reported on smaller area lakes (Bismarck, Horsethief, Roubaix, and Stockade) and Pactola is now iced over though only gulches have safe ice, and there with caution.
Deerfield Reservoir: Six to eight inch ice reported in the Gold Run area and near boat launch area. Anglers are finding perch and trout activity as well as an occasional lake trout in the eight to ten pound range (release is recommended).
Pactola Reservoir: Lake is ice-covered though safe ice exists only in bays with most of the activity at present centered in Jenney Gulch where anglers have been reporting catches of perch, crappie and northern pike on jigs and minnows.
Roubaix Lake: Some of the earliest safe ice conditions in the hills along with a decent trout bite (jigs tipped with red maggots or plastics) attracted ice fishermen last week.
Sheridan Lake: Six-inch plus ice on the lake at present. Best fishing action has been along Highway 385 where ice fishermen have been picking up perch and some small northern pike.
Lake Oahe: Ice has formed in back bays though sub-zero wind chills have limited interest.
Lake Sharpe: Some walleye activity reported in stilling basin as ice builds up throughout the system. Some bays are reportedly fishable, a situation that will improve rapidly as cold temps will prevail into new year.
Lake Francis Case: Shoreline ice has shut down fishing activity until safe ice appears.
Sheridan Lake Fishing Derby sponsored by Walleye Unlimited: Jan. 28, perch and northern pike, one-day tournament with a $30 entry fee per team. Call (605) 348-1470 or 381-9457 for additional information.
Whitney Dock Club Ice Fishing Tournament: Jan. 13 on Whitney Lake (Between Chadron and Crawford, Neb.), $25 per ticket with 100 spots available. Call Scott Gooder (308) 430-4896 for additional info.
The Roosters Annual West River Ice Fishing Tournament: The year long contest features prizes awarded for largest catch in a variety of species. Contact The Rooster in Rapid City for additional details.
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.