Ice fishing aficionados had best keep an ear peeled for the sound of the bell tolling as the end of ice fishing season may be fast approaching. Or certainly will be in many areas next week with temps in the Black Hills area expected to climb into the mid-50’s for a week or so.
At present, most of the higher elevation lakes have safe ice—though edges may be problematic in places—though the prairie lakes are opening up. And the ice remaining had best be avoided.
Nonetheless, though fishing activity has slowed over the last week, fish are being taken through the ice at higher elevation lakes, a situation that will continue at Deerfield and in the bays of other lakes for a few weeks to come. And a variety of species are showing up as well with trout, pike, and crappie remaining active.
Thus, for ice fishermen, next week’s warmer weather likely starts the downward slope of their cold-weather sport. And, signals for boaters and soft water devotees, seven days closer to spring.
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Angostura Reservoir: No fishing activity at present as lake is opening up.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): No change from recent weeks as the lake remains in a state of transition. The lake had been opening up with warmer weather, and refreezing when temperatures drop.
Black Hills Streams: Trout activity rises and falls with the peaks and valleys of weather changes. On warmer days, Rapid Creek has been producing an excellent bite at most locations below Pactola—nymphs recommended. And the bite in Rapid, has been very active particularly during active midge hatches during midday hours.
Custer State Park: Ice conditions are reportedly safe though caution advised as shorelines become sketchy. Trout activity remains steady as well on minnows and a variety of other presentations.
Deerfield Lake: Excellent ice remains though pressure ridges need be avoided. Though fishing activity has slowed a bit, the few anglers out have been catching perch (typically small), and nice sized trout.
Pactola Reservoir: Active rainbow trout, perch and bluegill on minnows, wax worms, and lures reported. Some northern pike activity in gulches and lake trout are being taken at deeper water locations. Some open water has been reported in mid-lake.
Sheridan Lake: Good ice reported though does vary by location necessitating caution. Edges can by a cause for concern as well. Anglers are still catching small perch along with the occasional crappie, trout and blue gill on minnows and red maggots.
Stockade Lake: At last report, 14 inches of ice in most spots. Some perch activity though slow otherwise.
Lake Oahe: Walleye and northern pike bites have been excellent in upper stretches of Oahe. Fish have been showing up anywhere from 20 to 50 feet in depth and responding to spoons tipped with a minnow head. Farther south, some walleye activity reported in the Cheyenne and Miniconjou areas though fishing activity has been light.
Lake Sharpe: Weather permitting, boaters are catching walleye below the dam on jig/minnow setups during afternoon hours. Ice fishing in the Joe Creek and West Bend areas has been pretty solid though recent warm weather and win combination is a cause of concern relative to ice conditions.
Lake Francis Case: Some walleye activity reported below Ft. Thompson recently though fishing activity has been slow due to weather complications.
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.