A peek out the window and a glance at the looming weather forecast would seem to favor anglers limiting catches of whopper to storytelling rather than actual practice as this week as frigid temps and snowy weather will make travel potentially hazardous and access to bodies of water difficult.
Nonetheless, dedicated fishermen often brave the elements and do find a way to get to an ice shack. For those diehards, audacity could be rewarded as fishing activity has been generally good throughout the Black Hills area recently.
However, a word of caution: though current cold spell has firmed up ice in most locations, a snow cover can conceal pressure ridges and other pitfalls.
For those not yet discouraged, here are some current fishing hotspots in the area.
Angostura Reservoir: Ice has thickened up on the lake and some walleye activity reported though fish taken are generally on the small side. Horsehead and Shep’s Canyon have been busiest locations on the lake.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): Ditto last week has weather has virtually shut down fishing activity. The only positive: the ice is really, really good.
Black Hills Fly Fishing: A week perhaps best spent near a warm fire, sipping a hot beverage, telling stories and tying flies, and dreaming of better days ahead.
Custer State Park lakes: Trout activity reported with Center Lake reportedly the most productive location last week. Waxworms and small jigs tipped with a minnow have been the popular presentation.
Deerfield Reservoir: Fishing has been excellent with limits of perch —mostly small, sorting required—and trout taken as well as a few lakers. Waxworms and small minnows are working for most species while smelt and golden shiners are the go-to for lake trout.
Pactola Reservoir: A solid lake trout bite in progress and while most of the laker activity to this point has been on the south side of the lake, the north side is freezing up and deep-water spots in those areas should produce lake trout action as well. Perch are being caught on south end near the visitor’s center, and northern pike have been showing up on golden shiners in Jenney Gulch.
New Wall Lake: Ice is solid and anglers have been catching a variety of species--pike, crappie, perch and bass — recently on waxworms and small minnows.
Sheridan Lake: As one of the more accessible lakes in the Black Hills, lots of fishing activity reported. And productively so, with limits of perch taken daily as well as catches of northern pike. Perch are typically found at depths of 15-25 foot of water and responding to waxworms, maggots, and small minnows whereas pike are seeking smelt and golden shiners.
Stockade Lake: Perch and crappie bites (maggots and waxworms) continue, and trout were active last week responding to waxworms. Some pike activity (golden shiners) reported on the west side of the lake.
Lake Oahe: In last weekend’s annual Pierre Winter Fish Weekend, the winning team in the northern pike category weighed 44.6 lbs. The largest pike caught on the day tipped the scales at 26.8 lbs. Though locations weren’t revealed, the busiest locations were in the Spring Creek and Cow Creek areas.
Lake Sharpe: The Winter Fish Weekend tournament walleye boat division winner — 12-15 boats working below the dam — weighed in 19.47 pounds total with the largest walleye caught scaling at 7.61 pounds. In the walleye ice division, the winning team weighted in 13.42 pounds, including a 6.2-pound specimen. Most of the activity on ice occurred near the stilling basin. Reports indicate that walleye are also being taken at West Bend, Joe Creek, and at Hippo Lake inside Farm Island. Open water below the dam created by water discharges will likely cease due to reduced flows and much colder weather.
Lake Francis Case: There has been some walleye activity reported below the dam at Fort Thompson and near the dredge hole near railroad bridge. The annual Chamberlain Oacoma fishing tournament — registrations are closed — is scheduled this Saturday.
Upcoming Ice Fishing Tournaments (applications and info available at area fishing supply stores):
Feb. 23: Hooked on Hardwater ice fishing tournament at Deerfield Lake sponsored by The Club for Boys. The annual tournament matches 60 club members with 60 pro fishermen from the around the ice belt for a morning of fishing. The outing is preceded by a Friday night pro and member social. For more information, contact The Club for Boys, (605) 343-3500.
The Rooster’s annual “Trout Olympics” kicks off on Saturday and continues though Feb. 17. During that time frame, anyone catching a state record lake, brown, rainbow, or brook trout will receive a $5,000 Rooster gift certificate. No fee required. Contact The Rooster for contest 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.