Fishing pursuits remain largely on hold at present as temperature fluctuations make conditions less than ideal for open water practitioners and, with the exception of a few Black Hills higher elevation lakes (see below), unsafe for ice angling enthusiasts.
With ice fishing upon us, a primer of sorts and a word of caution. In checking ice, drill a hole and insert a tape measure. If at last four inches, the ice should be safe for walking though proceed with caution. Ice more than five inches will likely hold a snowmobile, and more than eight, a car or small pickup. Also, adding a life jacket, ice pick, length or rope and ice auger to fishing accessories is strongly suggested.
Lastly, avoid ice where cracks are visible, keep a distance from open water inlets, and if possible, partner up. And keep in mind the admonition made famous by Sergeant Phil Esterhaus in the TV’s Hill Street Blues: “Hey, let’s be careful out there.”
Angostura Reservoir: Thanksgiving weekend coupled with colder weather largely shut down fishing activity on the lake this past week, a situation likely to continue until ice buildup allows access for ice fishermen. Though there has been walleye recently (slowly trolling with Lindy rigs and minnows) and a lull in the weather may encourage an intrepid angler to give it a go.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): A repeat of last week with virtually no activity on the lake other than the occasional shore fisherman willing to brave the elements in hopes of catching some of the large walleye that have been active recently.
Black Hills Fly Fishing: Stream fishing remains quite good on days when temperatures are above freezing (nymphs and streamers conventionally used), and on colder days utilizing the tenkara technique with tungsten nymphs.
Canyon Lake: Trout bite reported on either powerbait or small spinners.
Center, Mitchell, and Roubaix Lakes: The lakes do have fishable ice of shorelines though caution and good ice safety techniques are a must.
Deerfield Reservoir: No reports available though the lake may be very close to providing safe ice particularly in the Gold Run area. Clearly, a check-out while proceeding with extreme caution situation.
Pactola Reservoir: Open water fishing continue to produce some nice-sized rainbow trout (spinners and small jigs). Ice reported in Jenney Gulch though likely yet unsafe.
Rapid Creek: Through the city continues to be a popular spot to attract trout. A dry-dropper worked in currents has been a fish catcher while heavier lead flies have been working best in deeper water. Best bet: deeper waters and edges of fast water during mid-day hours.
Sheridan Lake: Ice forming though as yet no reports of safe, fishable ice.
Lakes Oahe, Sharp, and Francis Case: A drop-off in hunting activity this weekend may encourage some anglers to test the waters though warmer weather will be the likely determinant. There has been some isolated activity near the mouth of Cheyenne on Oahe, stilling basin at Pierre on Sharpe, and easy accessible locations near Chamberlain though reports as to success have been sketchy.
Dakota Angler & Outfitter, 513 Seventh St., Rapid City; The Rooster, 1441 W. Main St., Rapid City; Wheel and Bait, 18696 Fisherman’s Road, Fruitdale; West Prairie Resort, 28354 182nd, Pierre (605-264-5303), Horsecreek Inn and Campground, 23570, Hill City, and Angostura State Resort have contributed to this report.