While another stretch of hot weather is on tap for the weekend, the cooler temps forecast for the week thereafter should offer pleasant conditions for outdoor enthusiasts wishing to enjoy the glorious panorama of a Black Hills autumn. And for anglers, an excellent time to cast a line into one of the eight hundred miles of streams or 38 reservoirs available in the area.
An added plus for fishermen in the coming week could be the arrival of a full moon on Monday, supposedly a period of time during which fish feed more aggressively. Or so if the supposed empirical evidence handed down word-of mouth by anglers can be readily accepted.
Anyway, for those wishing to put that theory to a test, here are some locations where the fish population has been active and perhaps most susceptible to persuasion with or without the effects of moonlight.
Angostura Reservoir: Walleye activity is beginning to pick up as limits— including specimens in the 18–22-inch range — have been picked up on jigs and minnows/crawlers and Lindy rigs, worked in 18-25 foot of water. Also, smallmouth bass have been active responding to crankbaits. And a crappie bite continues on small minnows and slip bobbers.
Bear Butte Lake: Crappie and perch bites continue on worms and minnows as well as bass activity on beetle spins, nightcrawlers and weedless worms. Bullheads action reported as well on crawler presentations worked in shallower water.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): Walleye activity remains very slow, a likely combination of relatively high-water temps stemming from the less than 50 percent water level in the lake and the abundance of bait fish currently available. That shore fishing is bordering on impossible due to the low water, a situation that has discouraged many visitors as well. Nonetheless, the boat docks are still in, and some smallmouth bass activity near the dam has been reported.
Black Hills Fly Fishing: The fall months remain an optimum time to test one’s fly-fishing skills as trout are very active with the best results typically in Rapid, Spearfish and Castle Creeks. Fall bug hatches stimulate the trout bite providing excellent dry fly-fishing opportunities in early morning hours while hoppers tend to be more effective later in the day.
Center Lake: Trout activity reported on spinners and crawlers.
Deerfield Reservoir: Perch activity continues with limits being caught on small jigs and crawlers. Fish appear to be concentrated at 25-to-30-foot depths. Trout activity as well particularly during early morning or late afternoon.
Horsethief Lake: Trout bite is reportedly very active with powerbait the recommended offering.
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 have been showing up on shiners or chubs.
Shadehill Reservoir: As waters cool, walleye activity is increasing as limits— including some in the 15–18-inch range — are being reportedly caught on jigs and Lindy rigs with minnows.
Sheridan Lake: Bluegill in the 10-inch range are being picked up on nightcrawlers. And the perch bite continues to be steady with schools of perch located 8-10 feet off the bottom and responding to small jigs and crawlers. Also, rainbow trout have been responding to trolled cowbells and flat fish presentations, and occasional 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: Just okay seems to be the operative phrase when describing the walleye bite at present as fish remain deep (30-40 feet on the main lake and 10-20 in tributaries). The fish caught have been responding to spinners and either minnows or crawlers. Smallmouth bass activity continues as does catfish action back in bays. Salmon bite is starting to improve as fish migrate toward Whitlock Bay though fish are still deep (70-90 feet of water).
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.