While blizzard conditions might have been discouraging to many, ice fishermen — the hardiest of the lot and those equipped with cozy ice shacks — weren’t among the dispirited during recent spell of foul weather as quite a number found time to trek to the ice regardless. And for many, their expectations were rewarded as excellent ice fishing opportunities continue in the Black Hills.
Fish to be caught coupled with excellent weather predicted for the upcoming week will likely assure that ice fishermen will be out in force in the week ahead.
As has been the case so far this winter, ice fishing remains largely relegated to upper elevation Black Hills area lakes as unsafe ice remains the norm on bodies of water on the prairie lakes both big and small.
While ice fishermen opportunities will abound, open water fishermen, particularly those who enjoy casting a fly into moving waters, will be able to put the new year’s pleasant weather to good effect as well as area streams continue to produce plenty of trout action.
With that, here’s a brief look at fishing prospects in early days of 2019.
Angostura Reservoir: Weekend weather curtailed fishing activity last week though open water conditions and warmer temps may attract some boaters--boat dock at north marina was open at last report--to head out after walleye this week.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): Open water remains on the lake and though there is fishable ice conditions remain very spotty, a situation made more iffy by the the addition of a couple inches of snow during the recent storm. Though anglers have been few, those venturing out on to the ice have caught some nice walleye in the 15-19 inch range. Nonetheless, safety exercised by extreme caution, is the key ingredient to any fishing excursion at present.
Black Hills Fly Fishing: Despite the weekend weather, warmer weather on tap will open up trout fishing opportunities on area streams. Nymphs remain the go-to presentation during midday hours though warmer weather may well spur midge hatches and allow for some excellent dry fly fishing.
Deerfield Reservoir: Perch bite remains on fire throughout the lake (red maggots and waxworms) with perhaps a slight nod to Gold Run as the hottest of the spots. Some trout activity as well on small jigs tipped with a minnow. And a few lakers are being caught on on golden shiners.
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Pactola Reservoir: Much of the lake has frozen over though not yet to four inch or thicker safe ice levels. Only Jenney Gulch has fishable ice at present, and the area has produced a few northern pike on golden shiners.
Sheridan Lake: The lake remains perhaps the premier location for surefire fishing action as ice fishermen have been catching plenty of perch along with occasional catches of northern pike and trout. Perch and trout have been hitting on red maggots, wax worms, and small minnows while pike--mainly taken along highway--are more receptive to golden shiners. Though most of the recent snows have blown off the surface, do watch for and avoid pressure ridges.
Stockade Lake: Pretty much more of the same for the lake as perch bite remains strong at a variety of locations. Are typically found at depths of 20-25 foot of water and feasting on maggots and wax worms.
Missouri River: Open water on Oahe with exception of some back bays and wind and cold weather has discouraged open water activity. However, Lake Sharp below the dam at Pierre is seeing quite a bit of boat activity near the stilling basin and around the bridges as anglers are finding a solid walleye bite. Though water releases at dam have been reduced, open water extends to Antelope Creek area, and the ice beyond is not yet safe. No recent reports from the Chamberlain area or Francis Case elsewhere.
Upcoming Ice Fishing Tournaments (applications and info available at area fishing supply stores):
4th Annual Whitney Dock Club Tournament (between Chadron and Crawford Neb.), one of the largest fishing tournaments in the area is scheduled for Saturday, January 12; Pre-registration, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. with tournament following from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; chili feed and raffle to follow. Contact Scott Goodar (308-430-4896) for details.
Rapid City Chapter Sheridan Lake Walleyes Unlimited Fishing Tournament, January 27, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.. Information will be available at SD Walleye Unlimited website (sdwalleyesunlimited.org).
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.