An improving fishing bite in the area and a weekend of free parking and fishing (no license required) in South Dakota State Parks along with a variety of free events for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages would seem the ideal situation for a weekend outing.
Well, almost. In a year when unpredictable weather has become the norm, a week of sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s will give way to a mix of cool temps (high 40s to low 50s) and periods of rain this weekend.
It's been that kind of year. Despite the unfortunate timing, hopefully families will be able to join die-hard anglers in getting a line or two in the water thereby enjoying what has been an improving fishing situation in the Black Hills area. Northern pike activity should be in high gear in area lakes.
With that, here are some spots, state park and otherwise, where the thrill and satisfaction of filling out a stringer of fish might help to offset an outing spent in less than desirable weather.
Angostura Reservoir: Shore fishing has been producing some limits of walleye and catches of bass on occasion. Fish are currently schooled in shallow water. Crappie rigs with minnows, fatheads particularly, seem to be the ticket.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): Some walleye activity reported though cyclical based upon weather. Fish are showing up shallow water—10 foot or less. Overs and slot fish are being caught though not many unders. Fish remain scattered with activity reported at Fruitdale, Gaden’s Point and Rattlesnake Creek.
Black Hills Fly Fishing: Flows are still high on Rapid Creek though nymph fishing remains good. Spearfish, Spring and Castle Creeks are probably fishing a little better at present. Nymphs worked in slower moving pockets along shorelines are best bet.
Custer State Park lakes: Fishing activity is picking up as waters warm, a situation that presently favors working shorelines. Trout and panfish activity should continue to improve.
Deerfield Reservoir: Fishing activity remains slow as anglers are likely anxiously awaiting a spell of good weather.
Pactola Reservoir: Activity picked up last week as bluegill, trout, lake trout and northern pike bites began to improve. Bluegill and rainbows were feeding in the shallows of bays—trout on the north side and perch in south--while lakers were being caught in the deep water near the face of the dam. Jenney Gulch remains the hot spot for northern pike with smelt and chubs the baits of choice.
Prairie Lakes: Lakes are fishing well though as elsewhere, a bit of warmer weather would best serve angler and foe. Durkee, Gardner, Opal, Newel and New Wall Lake have been producing a variety of species.
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Sheridan Lake: Though not hot and heavy as yet, northern pike and perch bites reported. Nightcrawlers have been the bait of choice for perch while pike are favoring frozen smelt.
Spearfish Creek: The spotlight has been on the creek lately as flows are excellent and hungry trout abound.
Lake Oahe: With water temperatures creeping into the 50’s, bites are slowly building up steam. Most of the activity at present features northern pike—fish up to 20 pounds—and nice-sized catfish back in bays as walleye activity remains on the slow side. Pike and catfish are being taken on smelt/slip bobber rigs.
Lake Sharpe: Walleye and smallmouth bass activity is steady most days though very much influenced by weather conditions. On favorable days, walleye and bass are congregated in shallow water—10 foot or less—and responding to pulled plugs and spinner/minnow rigs.
Lake Francis Case: A steady walleye bite continues though considerable sorting required as majority of fish are small. Shore fishermen are finding pitching jigs the route to success while jigs/minnow rigs are the best trolling combination.
Jared Roe Memorial Fishing Tournament: June 1, Angostura Reservoir. Contact Jerry Roe (605-484-3495) for details.
South Dakota Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 2 Fishing Tournament: June 8, Angostura Reservoir. Contact Jason Mitzel (605-786-4829) for details.
Father’s Day Fishing Tournament: June 15, Angostura Reservoir. Contact Stacy Reetz for details.
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.