A rare rainless day on Wednesday and a pretty decent forecast for the next week should open some avenues for a good fishing experience. It might be a good week to get out on the lakes as water temperatures will begin to climb sending fish deep, and more difficult to catch.
For those looking for some big lake action — and don’t wish to drive to North Dakota to find it — Oahe is having a banner year in terms of a walleye bite that has been less than ideal in recent years. Good size fish are showing up — 18 inch plus — are showing up as well.
Locally, the best walleye activity seems situated at Belle Fourche Reservoir while prairie ponds are alive with bass, perch and crappie action as water levels drop and water temperatures stabilize.
Given the frequency of storm fronts and the general unpredictability common to this year’s weather, temps predicted in the 80s and 90s for the next week or so, and a chance to get a line in the water when the strikes are hot, might just be too tempting to pass up. And remembering always that on a South Dakota summer outing, sunscreen, fly spray and multiple bottles of water are a must.
Angostura Reservoir: Not a lot of change in the walleye bite as the status remains very much a day-to-day proposition, and experience and electronics are often required. Fish are currently located in 25-30 feet of water though will likely go deeper as the water begins to heat up. Crappie action is picking up somewhat in bays with minnows the bait of choice.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): The six or so inches of rain experienced in the area last week deterred some anglers though those present continued to do well. The walleye bite is generally lake-wide, and nightcrawlers trailed by a Lindy rig the preferable presentation though floaters with a smiley face have been attracting attention as well. Catches are mixed in size with the larger fish typically found in 25-30 feet of water.
Bear Butte: Walleye and crappie bites on minnows reported. Also, an occasional pike being landed as well.
Black Hills Fly Fishing: With water levels up again on Rapid and Box Elder Creeks, Spearfish, Castle and Spring Creeks are probably best bet until water levels subside elsewhere. Streamers and nymphs remain the best option though dry fly activity late in day with caddis should bring some action.
Custer State Park lakes: All of the lakes in the park are producing trout activity as are streams though the water level is high. An assortment of bait options are working at present ranging from leeches to various size jigs and nymph combinations. Fish are typically showing up in clearer water near shore — three to five-feet depths seem to be the busiest.
Deerfield Reservoir: The perch bite remains excellent with crawlers recommended and 20-30 feet of water the ideal depth. Also, limits of trout reported as well with small jigs and lures working best.
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New Underwood Dam: Bluegill action on nightcrawlers is picking up and the catfish bite continues with stink bait attracting nice sized catfish up to 10 pounds.
New Wall Dam: Like many prairie ponds, bass and bluegill bites are excellent at present.
Pactola Reservoir: Shore fishermen working off Veteran’s Point have been catching decent sized rainbow trout on trout spinners. Northern pike and lake trout bites have been pretty spotty likely a function of extremely high water levels in the lake at present.
Prairie Lakes: Water levels have receded to fishable depths and the s well as becoming more accessible and many ponds are producing largemouth bass and bluegills. Poppers or other top-waters in early morning hours seem to be the ticket.
Sheridan Lake: Boat fishermen are catching nice rainbow trout on trout spinners as well as largemouth bass near the mouth of bays. Some small northern pike are showing up on minnows or frozen smelt near the Spring Creek inlet. And crappie are hitting aplenty near the north shore docks.
Sylvan Lake: A good trout bite on nightcrawlers reported.
Lake Oahe: Lake Oahe is experiencing one of the best walleye bites in recent years with fish in the 18-20-inch range showing up with regularity. The Cheyenne and Miniconjou areas remain hot as does Bush’s Landing. Crawlers, leeches and crankbaits are all working well. Also, anglers have been catching salmon both on the face of the dam and off the points of bays. Fish aren’t large — five to six pounds typically — though do provide an occasional break from chasing walleye. Electronics are a must, and going deep with dipsy divers or down riggers essentail. Bass, catfish and northern pike are available most days, too.
Lake Sharpe: Traffic on the lake is down this year due to the increased activity up above and high-water releases over the dam—55,000 cubic foot plus—creating high water throughout the system. West Bend, Farm Island, Antelope Joe Creek areas are producing walleye — lots of slots though 15 inch minimum is off until September — along the edge of the tree lines or on the flats on nightcrawler/spinner rigs worked in 10-20 feet of water.
Lake Francis Case: The walleye bite is somewhat slow though shore fishermen working the rocky shorelines have been picking up some fish during evening hours. And catfish are being taken in those locations as well on nightcrawlers.
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.