Ice fishing experts profess that fishing prospects are often excellent during periods leading up to and including snowstorms as a falling barometer, and semi-dark conditions generally contribute to better bites.
Possibly true though one has to wonder if there is not an upper limit to what constitutes acceptable amounts of snowfall, a point at which even die-hard ice anglers opt for safety over limits of fish caught.
This week's forecast of blizzard conditions for Western South Dakota provided an answer of sorts as area bait shops battened down the hatches and closed up shop on Wednesday.
And while the storm is predicted to abate and give way to sunny skies and temps in the high 30s over the weekend and into 40s next week, snow cover on ice from the storm may create safety concerns. A snow cover acts as a blanket insulating ice while contributing to cracks and concealing unstable pressure ridges often exacerbated by day and night temperature fluctuations.
For ice fishermen in the week ahead, a reminder that while permanent ice shacks had to be removed on Sunday past, continued usage of shelters is permissible as long as removed daily, or occupied overnight.
Ahead, a wait-and-see situation will exist until blizzard conditions subside. With that in mind, here is a brief look at what has been happening recently in West River and Black Hills area fishing.
Angostura Reservoir: Plenty of workable ice at present and recent reports of walleye activity in bays with fish located in 35-40 feet of water and responding to minnows.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): Weather related woes continue to curb fishing activity at present.
Black Hills Fly Fishing: Despite the anticipated snowfall, warmer temperatures followed by runoff may create workable conditions by middle of next week. Nymph and streamer fishing are recommended until waters clear up.
Deerfield Reservoir: Excellent ice lake-wide at last report along with occasional bites of perch and trout including lakers. Small minnows for trout and perch and golden shiners or smelt on the lakers are advised.
Pactola Reservoir: The lake has been producing plenty of lake trout action. Fish are scattered, however, and located at depths anywhere from 20-85 feet of water. Once found, either smelt, golden shiners, or chubs should do the trick.
Prairie Lakes: Some perch activity at some locations last week though snow cover will likely curtail activity until sufficient melt occurs.
Sheridan Lake: Severity of Wednesday’s blizzard will determine fishing prospects in the week ahead. Ice should be excellent for a while, and trout and perch bites have been fairly steady throughout the winter along with occasional northern pike activity as well.
Stockade Lake: Smallmouth bass activity reported recently along with some perch and trout activity. Small minnows are working well for all species.
Lake Oahe: Blizzard will keep fishing activity on hold for a while. And weather conditions will be the primary determinant as to when, where, and on what surface fishing activity will resume.
Lake Sharpe: Walleye fishing should be good once weather settles somewhat in central South Dakota. Walleye have been showing up in stilling basin (when accessible), Farm Island, Hippo Lake, and West Bend and Joe Creek areas.
Lake Francis Case: No reports recently received.
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.