The period between Christmas and New Year’s is typically an excellent time for fishing families to add a bit of nip to holiday good cheer by including a day of ice fishing to the annual festivities. And though the spell of wintry weather the last couple of days may have quelled a degree of excitement, the prospect of warmer weather over the weekend should bolster expectations for some quality time in the Black Hills. And area lakes are doing their part to enhance such an outing as fishing success has been trending upward recently.
Area fishing at present is largely confined to Black Hills upper elevation lakes as prairie lakes remain unsafe. Sheridan and Stockade Lakes have been the hotspots in the hills though most of the Hills lakes are producing perch and trout at present. And fortunately for those who enjoy warmer conditions, mid-afternoon hours are the optimum hours for fishing success.
Angostura Reservoir: No activity reported as lake remains largely open with but patches of thin ice along shorelines in a few bays. Additionally, colder weather has discouraged open water fishing — boat dock at north marina was open at last report.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): Ice is building — four inches or thicker near shorelines though open water remains beyond and extreme caution advised. Very little activity last week, a situation likely to continue with snow and wind on tap for the next few days.
Black Hills Fly Fishing: Current stretch of cold weather will put a damper on fly fishing opportunities until temperatures begin to warm, hopefully by the middle of next week. For anglers of limited patience, Czech nymphing and tenkara rods to avoid icing of the tip are recommended.
Canyon Lake: Trout have been moderately active on powerbait and small spinners.
Deerfield Reservoir: A good to excellent perch bite, an okay trout bite, including a few lakers in the mix, and solid ice throughout the lake sum up activity the week past. Trout have been responding to small jigs tipped with a minnow or golden shiner for lakers, perch have been more interested in maggots and waxworms. Gold Run area has been the busiest location. Perch caught are typically small, however and sorting required.
Pactola Reservoir: Not much activity at present as with the exception of Jenney Gulch open water predominates. Main lake is likely still a couple of weeks away from becoming fishable. Some reports of northern pike being caught in Jenney Gulch though reports are sketchy.
Sheridan Lake: Excellent bites of northern pike, perch, and trout are currently in progress. Pike seem to be congregated along highway 385, and responding to golden shiners. Perch and trout, most active in the area adjacent to the marina, are feeding on red maggots, wax worms, and small minnows. Though ice is generally excellent, pressure ridges are present at spots and should be avoided.
Stockade Lake: An excellent perch bite in progress on a lakewide basis. Red maggots and wax worms are advised and working deep at depths of 20-25 feet of water.
Missouri River: Heavy snow and high winds will likely shutdown fishing activity on the river this week. Activity has been light so far this winter for the most part with most relegated to Lake Sharp in and around the Pierre area where anglers have been finding a steady walleye bite particularly near the dam and bridges.
Upcoming Ice Fishing Tournaments (applications and info available at area fishing supply stores):
● 4th Annual Whitney Dock Club Tournament (between Chadron and Crawford Nebraska), one of the largest fishing tournaments in the area is scheduled for Saturday, Jan.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, Jan. 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.