A week of good weather followed by a low pressure cell that set in on Thursday and clear skies over the weekend bodes well for excellent ice fishing forecasts for the week ahead.
And with that, a continuation of what has been a sharp increase in ice activity – at both ends of the line – over the past two weeks, good ice and hungry fish are converging.
Sunfish and pike activity was excellent on the large mountain lakes – Pactola, Sheridan, Deerfield – while the smaller Black Hills lakes – Bismarck, Legion, Center, Sylvan, Roubaix – produced excellent bites of trout.
So the week ahead looks like a good opportunity to load up the rods and tip-ups, fish finders and proper ice fishing gear and head for the hills.
With that thought in mind, here’s an update on some locales.
Angostura Reservoir: The lake now has good ice – 4.5 to 10 inches reported – although caution is still advised. Fishing activity, or rather success, may have been slow. Improving weather conditions could contribute to increased activity next week and hopefully better walleye biting, although an abundant population of shad continues to battle this possibility.
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Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman): The weekend’s Wild Walleyes-sponsored ice fishing tournament may have gone as well as expected based on recent activity. There were 30 teams with 15 teams weighing fish. The winning team in the walleye division caught three fish, two overs. And a number of teams caught 8-10 perch. The busiest area seemed to be north of Gadens Point in the Tequila Beach area.
Fly fishing in the Black Hills: As elsewhere, the thaw has contributed to a better trout bite in recent days. Patterns of nymphs and midge larvae worked in the middle of the day are recommended.
Deerfield Lake: Excellent ice all over the lake and reports of regular bites from perch, trout and northern pike. The perch has been suspended at depths of 30 feet in 70 feet of water and has responded to wax worms or red wigglers. The busiest area seems to be between the dam and Dutchman’s. In addition, a large lake trout was also caught last week.
Pactola Reservoir: The lake is completely frozen over now (watch for pressure ridges, especially near the north boat launch – and anglers have caught limits of trout, bluegills as well as a few northern specimens including nice size specimens.The south boat ramp area produced a lot of trout activity on minnows and wax worms.
Sheridan Lake: The lake has good ice throughout, but as always pressure ridges should be watched. Excellent bites of bluegill, perch (including some 12 inch fish) and trout reported. Waxworms and red maggots worked best for perch and bluegill while trout responded to presentations of small minnows. In addition, a few large pike were also caught, usually on worked chub in 5-15 feet of water near the structure.
Palisade Lake: Bluegill and perch activity reported – waxworms, red maggots, and active and dead stick presentations. A northern pike activity as well.
Oahe Lake: Most of the ice fishing activity has taken place in the Mobridge area, a situation that will certainly be the case this weekend with the annual Mobridge area fishing tournament one of the largest of the region. Walleye and northern pike are fished further south, mostly in waterholes 5 to 15 feet deep.
Sharpe Lake: Some water activities under the dam when wind and weather permit. And walleye activity reported especially when water is discharged. Good ice was reported in the Lake Hippo area near Pierre and further south, although reports are sketchy.
Case of Lake Francis: Walleye biting increased as ice conditions stabilized. Minnows and silver lures on jigging sticks work when schools are located.
Ice fishing tournaments and news
- January 22n/a – Prairie Hookers Thin Ice Invitational: Bear Butte Dam, contact Michael Thesing (605-430-8183 for more information.
- January 22n/a – Whitney Dock Club Ice Fishing Tournament: Lac Whitney (near Chadron), 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., pre-registration (8:30 a.m.), multiple prizes, chili dinner and draw following the event. Visit the Whitney Dock Club Facebook site or contact Scott Gooder (308-430-4896) for more information.
- January 30and – Walleyes Unlimited Sheridan Lake Ice Fishing Derby: Pre-registration only, visit the Walleyes Unlimited website for an application, pick up an entry form at The Rooster or other sporting goods stores, or call (605) 381-5300 or 390-0567 to more information.
- February 5and – Pierre’s winter fishing week: Call Todd Bowman (605-280-3723) for more information.
Dakota Angler & Outfitter, 513 Seventh St., Rapid City; Le Coq, 1441 W. Main St., Rapid City; Wheel in Bait Shop, 18696 Fisherman’s Road, Fruitdale and West Prairie Resort, 28354 182n/a, Pierre (605-264-5303) contributed to this report.