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Fishing Line: Workable ice in high country; Rapid Creek trout could be in peril

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Though ice fishermen are finding workable ice and some favorable fishing activity in the high country, a weekend weather forecast indicating temperatures rising into the mid-40’s with sunshine should serve as a reminder to all that weather fluctuations can create pressure ridges and unsafe ice conditions. Add a snow cover and user beware.

Nonetheless, most higher elevation Black Hills area lakes do have workable ice and active trout bites. Pactola, however, remains open in mid-lake while bays do have ice, including 5-6 inches in places, though, as always, extreme caution is paramount.

As for the larger prairie lakes, Orman is iced over (with 6-8 inches of ice in some locations) while Angostura remains open except for ice buildup along shorelines and in bays.

On a more distressing note, particularly to fly fishing aficionados, the current water levels on Rapid Creek are extremely low due to emergency work currently underway on the structure of Pactola Dam. And with the resultant water releases drastically reduced, flows below the dam are at extremely low levels.

Unfortunately, this situation will likely damage spawning beds and thus impact future trout populations in a creek that is one of the best trout fishing streams in the country.

Here follows a brief report of recent area fishing activity.

Angostura Reservoir: With open water prevailing, a few anglers have been testing the waters both from shore and boat as of last week though no recent reports have been received.

Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): The lake is iced over, and with up to 8 inches of ice in spots. Has been at least one four-wheeler on the ice though an action not highly recommended at present. The few fishermen out have been working Gadens, Tequilla and dam areas and finding limited walleye action

Black Hills Area Streams: Due to the situation described above, Rapid Creek is largely unfishable at present. Spearfish and Spring creek to have active trout bites at lower elevations.

Center Lake: Good ice and a trout activity reported.

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Deerfield Reservoir: While the main lake was open at last report, there is five to six inches of ice at inlet and on west side including Gold Run and Whitetail Loop areas. Reports indicate lots of perch activity though fish taken are quite small.

Mitchell Lake: Six plus inches of ice reported and a trout bite in progress. Waxworms and maggots are working best.

Pactola Reservoir: Open with exception five or so inches of ice in some gulches. Caution advised.  

Roubaix Lake: Six inches of ice reported with an active trout bite.

Sheridan Lake: The lake is iced over though safe ice is mostly confined to bays and near the marina. Scattered perch, trout and pike bites reported.

Stockade Lake: A buildup of workable ice (6 inches reportedly) on north and west sides of lake. Some bluegill, bass, and pike activity in progress.

Sylvan Lake:  A six-inch buildup of ice with trout activity reported.

Lakes Oahe: Open water conditions prevail in the south end of the lake with some walleye activity reported (minnows worked in 10 feet of water) near the mouth of the Cheyenne River. Fishing activity is very much dependent upon weather conditions.  

Lake Sharpe: Weather permitting, boaters are still working the areas from below the dam to Fort George. Walleye have been shallow and responding to minnows and jigging raps.

Fishing related activities:

  • Ice Fishing Seminar, SD Game, Fish & Parks Outdoor Campus in Rapid City. December 9th, 6:00-7:30 p.m. Event will feature a Pro Panel discussion relating to ice fishing in the Black Hills.

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.

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