Ice fishing season is on borrowed time

Newspaper staff

The brief cold spell over the past few days has helped somewhat, but the ice fishing season is quickly experiencing borrowed time as temperatures are expected to climb into the mid-60s over the weekend.

Despite the warm weather ahead, the Black Hills Highlands offer ice fishing opportunities in several locations. However, the shores are deteriorating and access can be problematic (carrying a board is advised to ensure safety).

And clearly, it’s that time of year when potato bars, ice picks and spikes become an absolute necessity, along with a buddy and a rope.

Fishing activity has slowed somewhat this past week, perhaps due to concerns about ice conditions, unfavorable weather conditions or perhaps interest and travel for high school sporting activities (wrestling state or basketball playoffs).

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Interestingly, today’s fishing outlook offers a little something for both freshwater and hardwater anglers. The former may conjure up dreams of open water fishing opportunities on approach. At the same time, they can rejoice in the fact that in the West River region, especially in the Black Hills, the cold and the month of March are not always foreign.

Angostura Reservoir: The lake is open with a few exceptions. And warm weather next week will likely clear away what little ice remains. No fishing reports yet.

Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): The lake opens. Fishing activity is slow, although a few fishermen are working in open water off Gadens and in the canal (no results known). There is ice on the main lake, but access is unlikely.

Black Hills Area Streams: Warmer temperatures are gradually expanding stream opportunities, although lower elevations will remain the hot spots. There are some dry fly fishing opportunities in Rapid or Spearfish Creeks, although nymph and streamer fishing work best.

Center Lake: Beautiful rainbow trout have appeared

Deerfield Lake: Good ice, especially in the Gold Run area, although the edges are iffy in places. And the coming warmer weather will exacerbate the problem. The bite has slowed down a bit, although trout and perch (mostly small) are still being caught.

Iron Creek Lake: THE the lake would have good ice with active perch and trout bites.

Pactola Reservoir: Solid ice was reported near the southern launch area, although access may be problematic elsewhere. The ravines, especially Jenney, have solid ice. The perch and trout bites continue and a 37 1/2 inch laker was caught last week.

Sheridan Lake: Although the edges can be rough in places and the surface is slightly muddy at times, 8 inches of ice and more have been reported on the main lake. Perch and trout activity most days, although slower than before. The usual red maggots, wax worms and minnows are recommended.

Stockade Lake: Ice conditions would be safe, although shorelines break and a board on hand might come in handy. Fishing reports are sketchy, although a few bluegills and perch are caught.

Lake Oahe: Reports indicate that workable ice conditions remain once accessible, although this side of the equation may be troublesome as shorelines open up. Walleye activity continues where fishing is possible.

Sharpe Lake: Open water fishing continues south from below the dam. And activity will start to pick up as temperatures rise. The walleyes should pile up. As always, the bite varies depending on the wind and water releases.

Lake Francis affair: Below, Fort Thompson Dam is open and producing walleye caught on jigs and minnows. Some activity was also reported around Chamberlain.

IMPORTANT EVENTS

The Olympic Games of the lacker/pike/trout rooster

When: February 17 to March 3.

What: $200 gift certificate for the fish measured the longest in each category.

Or: Black Hills Lakes only.

Terms: Free entry, but entry must take place before catching the fish. Only photos (two) are required. First, under the fish and not over it, and clear and indisputable. Second, the background image verifies the location as a lake in the Black Hills.

Wild Walleye Outfitters Summer Series

Angostura: April 27-28; Orman, May 11 and 12; Shade Hill, June 29-30. Registration opens on March 15, at a cost of $800 per team and $235 for individual tournaments. For additional questions, call 605-519-4286.

Dakota Angler & Outfitter, 1010 Jackson Boulevard, Rapid City; Le Coq, 1441 W. Main St., Rapid City; Wheel in Bait Shop, 18696 Fisherman’s Road, Fruitdale, contributed to this report.

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