With the exception of Mitchell Lake which supposedly has safe ice and is fishable, other Black Hills area lakes have little or no stretches of unsafe ice at present. That situation is unlikely to change soon given the 70-degree temps in the area on Wednesday and Thursday.
Thus, ice fishermen will likely be confined to inventorying and refurbishing equipment, purchasing new, or perhaps swapping stories and possibilities on Facebook.
As for soft water anglers, area streams at lower elevations are still producing plenty of trout action. And larger lakes are still fishable though the bites, particularly of walleye, remain on the slow side.
So, adhering to the most important element of ice fishing, safety first and foremost, here are a few guidelines toward that end. Old hat for the experienced ice fishermen. Potentially life-saving for the uninitiated.
Ice Fishing Safety tips:
- 2” or less ice - STAY OFF
- 4” - Safe for walking
- 5” - Snowmobile or ATV
- 8-12’ – Car or small pickups
- 12-15” – Medium trucks
- And always check ice at various locations as ice thickness varies
- Recommended equipment – Spud bar or chisel, ice picks, floating ice suit or life jacket, whistle, rope, and cell phone
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Angostura Reservoir: The walleye angler or two casting bait last week went unrewarded. Despite that, time spent locating baitfish could yet payoff. Or perhaps, some crappie action near the tires of the south marina will suffice.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): Very little activity reported. A few walleye of varied sizes have been caught in recent weeks. Water level is slowly increasing and the docks are still in place.
Black Hills Fly Fishing: No change. Area streams continue to produce some of the best fishing action in the Black Hills area as Rapid, Spearfish and Spring Creeks have been producing plenty of trout action. Typical of this time of the year, the activity is a midday exercise for the most part best accomplished by going subsurface with either nymphs or streamers.
Deerfield Lake: Ice is forming in Gold Run and in few inlets at last report. Apparently, untested except for the discretely mum this past week.
Mitchell Lake: Safe ice reported though extreme caution is advised.
Pactola Reservoir: A few northern pike have been showing up in bays. Likely, perch and rainbow bites are still active.
Sheridan Lake: No reports received. Some ice formed at the inlet though open water conditions prevail.
Lake Oahe: Similar to last week, fishing activity has been very limited due to wind and busy pre-Christmas activities. Likely some walleye activity available in the Cheyenne and Miniconjou area as fish come shallow.
Lake Sharpe: Walleye bite has been excellent from below the dam to Ft. George area. Fish have been stacked up off sandbars near current breaks. The tailrace below the dam has been a hot spot for evening hour anglers, particularly when water is being released over the dam.
Lake Francis Case: Walleye bite is reportedly quite good particularly around the bridges in the Chamberlain area. Jiggs and minnows are working best.
Ice Fishing Tournament & News
- SDGF&P Outdoor Campus Rapid City Ice Fishing Seminar: December 9th, 6:00-7:30 p.m. Conducted by Scott Olson, the event will offer giveaways and door prize drawings. All ages welcome. To Register, visit https://southdakota.storefront.kalkomey.com
- Wild Walleye Outfitters Ice Fever Tournament: January 8, 2022, Orman Dam; Open to 50 teams ($65/team): Release form available at wildwalleyeoutfitters.com. Call Kevin Vaugh (605-519-4286) for more info.
Dakota Angler & Outfitter, 513 Seventh St., Rapid City; The Rooster, 1441 W. Main St., Rapid City; Wheel in Bait Shop, 18696 Fisherman’s Road, Fruitdale, and West Prairie Resort, 28354 182nd, Pierre (605-264-5303) have contributed to this report.