Rain, rain, go away might be the anthem for South Dakota fishermen heading into July as muddied waters and high flows have disturbed normal early summer patterns. Despite the current weather pattern, larger lakes are still producing walleye along with a mix of northern pike and panfish, smaller Black Hills area lakes are producing trout, and area streams do have a host of hungry trout available particularly for the knowledgeable angler.
High waters do necessitate extra caution, however, as shorelines are unpredictable and an unexpected dive into fast moving water inadvisable.
On a positive note, warmer temperatures and a lowered chance of troublesome afternoon storms appear on the horizon for next week’s Fourth of July holiday. And for those willing to buckle up the overshoes, here are some locations where fish are awaiting.
Angostura Reservoir: Recent weather has curtailed walleye bite to some extent. Fish are scattered and sometimes difficult to locate. Majority of fish caught recently have been on the small side. Bottom bouncers and spinners with crawlers are recommended.
Bear Butte Lake: Plenty of bullheads available, and a 42-inch northern pike was reportedly caught last week as well.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): A slight negative in that while limits are still being caught, the walleye bite has slowed down from past weeks. On a positive note, however, the extra time required to limit out allows for more time to enjoy the splendor of a South Dakota outdoor experience. A toss-up in terms of bait as bottom bouncers with minnows, crawlers, or leeches are working. North side of the lake near Rabbit Island seems to be the hottest spot at present.
Black Hills Fly Fishing: Rains have muddied the waters of Black Hills streams at lower elevations and a better bet at present might be to move up a bit. Muddy waters, however, are fishable with nymphs likely the best choice. Big flies and working edges of streams is recommended. High water now should contribute to a longer period of excellent mid-summer fishing.
Deerfield Reservoir: Rainy weather has apparently dampened angler enthusiasm for the drive to the lake as very little activity has been reported recently. What little there is has been confined to scattered catches of perch and a few trout.
Pactola Reservoir: A mix of northern pike, bluegills and a few trout were caught last week. Jenney Gulch area remains hotspot for trout while bluegill activity can be typically found in most bays responding to a minnow or bit of crawler.
Shadehill Reservoir: Walleye remain active — nice-sized — and crappie activity has been picking up as well.
Sheridan Lake: Despite rains, the trout bite has been excellent, and crappie are starting to show up along the west shore near highway. Some perch activity reported near buoy line across from the marina. Included among better recent catches are a 16-inch largemouth bass and a 27-pound northern pike taken near highway fishing piers.
Lake Oahe: Excellent walleye bite on the big lake particularly around the mouth of the Cheyenne River, and Spring and Cow Creek areas. Fish are located at varying depths depending upon bait source of interest. Smelt are deeper (25-30 feet of water) while shad are shallower (10-15 feet). Nightcrawler rigs seem to be working best though minnows, leeches, and pulling plugs have been successful as well. The annual Bassmasters Elite Tournament his coming weekend may make for crowded conditions.
Lake Sharpe: Anglers fishing nights in fast water below the dam are catching plenty of catfish including a bunch in the two to ten pound range. Chubs or frozen smelt are working best. Walleye are being caught throughout system with the most activity centered in the West Bend area though majority of fish are small and considerable sorting required.
Lake Francis Case: Plenty of walleye are being caught in the Chamberlain area though unders predominate. Fish are being located in 5-15 feet of water and responding to spinners and crawlers. Smallmouth bass and crappies are showing up as well.
Whopper of the Week: A 42-inch northern pike reportedly caught at Bear Butte tops this week’s list.
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.