Cold nights to build and protect ice, and pleasant daytime temperatures forecast for the area next week would seem, on the surface, an ideal ice fishing scenario. Particularly since most Black Hills higher elevation lakes now have workable ice — four to seven inches reported on most lakes — and have been producing catches of perch, trout and the occasional northern.
Not so fast say veteran fishermen who boast of considerable experience in the matter. According to their fishing almanac, clear, sunny days are typically the kiss of death when it comes to catching fish as fish tend to hunker down and become inactive. And catching fish comes only to the up-at-the-crack-of-dawn angler, or those willing to work the ice during evening hours.
Yeah, well. Rather than waiting for a falling barometer and an approaching winter storm, typically optimum conditions, why not get out and enjoy some days on the ice with the temperature in the mid and high 40’s. Experts can be wrong, longshots do come in, and any fishing outing in the beauty of the Black Hills is a treat in itself.
With that in mind, here are some spots where fish have been active recently, in both soft and hard water conditions.
Angostura Reservoir: No reports received lately as last week’s cold weather served as a significant deterrent. Warmer temperatures on tap for next week might entice those fishermen who haven’t stored the the boat for the winter to give it a go as walleye have been active and responding to Lindy rigs and minnows.
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): Ice fishing could be a go this week as reports indicate a four inch buildup of ice as of earlier in the week, a thickness that is borderline safe for foot traffic. However, extreme caution and proper gear will be an absolute necessity particularly with warmer temps and high winds in the area next week.
Black Hills Fly Fishing: Stream flows remain excellent for this time of year, and warm weather forecast for next week should improve what has been excellent fishing. Nymphs and streamers remain the presentations though smaller midge patterns may pique interest as well. Also, the warmer weather may allow some dry fly fishing during midday hours.
Canyon Lake: Trout activity continues with powerbait and small spinners creating attention.
Deerfield Reservoir: Good ice condition reported and a nice perch bite in progress as well as some trout activity. Gold run area is usually a good bet, and maggots and waxworms a reliable attractant.
Pactola Reservoir: Little activity last week though Jenney Gulch does have ice though extreme caution is the password to admittance.
Rapid Creek: The stream through Rapid City continues to produce trout and will be one of the area’s hot spots throughout the winter months. It’s mostly nymph fishing now though midge hatches will occur throughout the winter allowing for some excellent surface fishing.
Sheridan Lake: Ice fishermen were catching perch and trout last week on either waxworms, maggots, or small minnows.
Stockade Lake: Good ice and a steady perch bite reported. A few walleye are showing up as well though fish caught are small and not in keeper territory as yet.
Lakes Oahe: The big lake does have walleye activity though most is in the Gettysburg area and points north. North of Pierre, an abundance of bait fish have stymied fishing activity for the most part.
Lake Sharp: Warmer weather last week resulted in some boats out and working around the bridges in Pierre, and catching walleye — mostly small — as the fish are presently stacked up below the dam. Also, warmer than normal weather has resulted in open water conditions for 16 or 17 miles farther south, a situation that will likely continue as long as higher volumes of water are being released.
Lake Francis Case: Slow last week though warmer weather ahead my lure a few anglers out in the days ahead as hunting activity dwindles a bit.
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.