With temperatures remaining on the warm side, the typical late summer, early fall bite remains on the back burner in many areas with trout fishing in Black Hills streams the notable exception. The large prairie lakes are experiencing the slowest activity as water levels are low and water temps have remained somewhat high.
However, Black Hills upper elevation lakes are seeing improvement as cooler nights produce a quicker lowering of water temps. And area streams, particularly Rapid, Spearfish and Castle, continue to produce plenty of trout action as well.
Fortunately, better days would seem to be on the horizon as temps lower and fish begin to put on the food bags.
Though the bites are slow at present, experienced anglers and those with a bit of patience are finding success. Here are some locations where a trip to an area fishing spot may turn a pleasant September day into a pleasurable fishing experience.
Angostura Reservoir: Walleye activity remains slow though limited activity reported on bottom bouncers with crawlers and spinners. Also, last week saw lots of crappie activity, particularly near the tires at South Marina, as crappie begin to school up. Small jigs and minnows were working best.
Bear Butte Lake: Crappie and perch are active, and bass have been hitting on beetle spins and weedless worms. Also, some bullhead activity in shallows on crawlers.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): Not much happening as game fish are sating appetites on the scores of shad in the lake, a feast easily accessible due to the low water level in the lake. There has been smallmouth bass activity reported on the north side of the dam. Boat docks are still in, however, and with the pleasant weather forthcoming, a slower than desired bite is perhaps bearable.
Black Hills Fly Fishing: Stream fishing remains excellent, particularly on Rapid, Spearfish and Castle Creeks. Trico Mayfly hatches have created good dry fly-fishing opportunities in early morning hours with hoppers a more popular choice during the day.
Deerfield Reservoir: Perch activity remains the go-to fish in the lake with limits being caught on small jigs and crawlers. Fish are typically located at depths of 25 to 30 feet. Some trout activity in early morning or late afternoon hours.
New Underwood Dam: Some nice-sized catfish are showing up on crawlers, stink bait, and chicken livers.
Pactola Reservoir: Bluegill and perch bites remain ongoing in bays with a piece of nightcrawler working best. Boaters are finding plenty of rainbow trout action trolling with cowbells, and shore fishermen are having similar success utilizing small jigs, spoons or powerbait. Also, a few lakers are being caught at depths on shiners or chubs.
Shadehill Reservoir: Despite a low water level in the lake, walleye bite seems to be improving somewhat. Bottom bouncers and minnows are the bait of choice, and 25-35 feet of water is the desirable depth.
Sheridan Lake: Perch activity continues with the fish located at 20 feet depths and responding to small minnows, and bluegills are being caught on dillys or a piece of crawler. Anglers trolling cowbells and flat fish are finding rainbow trout action. Pike bite, though not yet in full fall swing, is beginning to pick up along highway 385. Also, bass activity reported along weed lines on top water lures and weedless frogs.
Stockade Lake: Crappie are active on small minnows or small plastic jigs.
Lake Oahe: Walleye activity remains slow with fish still hanging out in deeper water (35-50 feet of water) for the most parts though some anglers have found success working shallower water (10-20 feet) along channel breaks. With that, smallmouth bass remain the target of most anglers as limits of nice-sized fish (four to five pounders included) are being caught. Salmon bite has slowed as fish responding to cooling waters will soon migrate toward Whitlock Bay.
Lake Sharpe: An excellent walleye bite in progress from the bridges south to the West Bend and Antelope Creek areas. The result: a boat fishing stampede on the lake at times, particularly on weekends, resulting in congestion at docks. For anglers looking for variety in their catches, catfish bite below the dam has been excellent. High winds can cause problems so a check of the weather forecast before venturing out is advised.
Lake Francis Case: Walleye activity remains fair in Chamberlain area. Jigs and crawlers or bouncers and crawlers working in 20-30 feet of water is recommended. Walleye bite is fair in Platte area and improved somewhat in locations farther south.
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.