A couple of much-welcomed, balmy spring days on Tuesday and Wednesday will give way to a brief stretch of cooler weather and periods of light snow on Friday and Saturday, a situation that will complicate fishing activity somewhat. Fortunately, conditions will improve next week allowing a continuance of what is currently a mixed bag. Cooler nights and temps in the high 40s and 50s should allow for another week of ice fishing at higher elevations — good ice continues at Deerfield, Pactola, Sheridan Lake, and in Custer State Park — while at the same time allowing open water practitioners opportunities on Black Hills streams and a few shorelines elsewhere.
A word to the wise, however. The “elsewhere” will likely not include prairie streams (flood stage at many locations) or lakes (either unsafe ice or inaccessible due to muddy conditions).
Fishing success last week was fair to good at numerous locations highlighted by a 39-inch lake trout catch at Pactola. And with warmer temps on the horizon coupled with occasional low-pressure passages, fishing prospects should continue to improve.
Angostura Reservoir: Though anxious anglers have been calling to see if it is possible to put boats in the water, the lake remains a no-no at present.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): Muddy conditions currently hampering access to the lake though with water releases, the canal is open. Also, open water at Gaden’s Point to a distance of 25 yards out from shore. And from the dock to the dam along the pressure ridge is open as well. Open water shore fishing only at present. Limited activity lately and no reports of success.
Black Hills Fly Fishing: Improving weather conditions and acceptable water flows will contribute to excellent trout bite. Streamers or larger nymph patterns have been working well, and dry fly fishing with midges should improve as black stoneflies and blue-winged mayflies are beginning to hatch.
Deerfield Reservoir: Excellent ice and nice catches of trout and perch on wax worms or maggots make the lake a continued go-to spot for ice fishermen. Also, an occasional lake trout is being caught on golden shiners.
Pactola Reservoir: A 39-inch lake trout was caught last week, a week after a 37 ½ inch specimen was nabbed. Craig XL soft plastics jigged with 2-3-inch golden shiners seem to be working best. Northern pike activity reported as well with minnows the recommended presentation, and some nice bluegill are beginning to show up near the south marina.
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Prairie Lakes: Lakes remain unsafe as access is generally limited due to mud and high water.
Sheridan Lake: Perch remain active near the north boat ramp typically located in 15-20 feet of water and responding to small minnows.
Stockade Lake: Smallmouth bass and perch bites on occasion primarily on the south end of the lake as the north side is reportedly slushy in spots.
Lake Oahe: Flood waters on feeder rivers — Cheyenne, White and Bad Rivers — and muddy access conditions throughout the system have limiting fishing activity on the big lake. However, smaller feeder creeks are running high with warmer water, a situation that should attract northern pike and create some excellent opportunities when accessible.
Lake Sharpe: Large inflow from the Bad River at Ft. Pierre has created muddy water conditions downstream though above the Bad River lots of boats were out below the dam over the weekend. And limits of walleyes were caught though many were pre-spawned females in the 17 to 21-inch range. With that, catch and release is recommended as hammering on pre-spawn females will hinder future walleye populations.
Lake Francis Case: Activity remains limited, and fishing success at a standstill.
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.