Still on the Ice, Still on the Prowl
With the rest of the lakes in the Black Hills currently open, one lake remains iced over against the backdrop of open water. Deerfield Reservoir sits higher than many of the lakes here and as such, is the one of the last ones to melt. Thankfully with a few days here and there where the temps got below or at freezing in town, the lake has maintained its hard ice though some areas are beginning to weaken, mostly on the far west side of the lake and along some of the shorelines. Despite some bites happening at other lakes currently open, if given the option of hitting the ice or the open water, I will always choose the ice as long as it's safe.
Hitting up the west side of the lake, I targeted rainbow trout using Clam Epoxy Drop jigs and Maki Polli plastics. Fishing anywhere from 6' to 12' along cattails and in bays, the number of fish I caught made for some entertainment, but I decided to head over to another point further east for a chance at bigger rainbows or, better yet, lake trout. Having only about an hour to fish before I had to leave, I threw on a Clam Drop Kick jig and pink Jamei XL plastic on one rod and another Drop Kick paired with a chartreuse J and S Custom Jig Versamite plastic on a second rod. Right away I had rainbows coming in and hitting the Versamite and landed a few quickly. Bigger jigging motions of 6"-12" with a slowed descent seemed to call in the rainbows, which hit the jig as it was on its downward motion.
I switched to the Jamei XL and after about 10 minutes, a large mark showed up on the Vexilar and line shot off the reel, indicating a laker had taken the jig. While the fight was a blast, getting the trout angled up the hole through 14" of ice proved to be the hardest part as the fish continually wanted to run once it got to the bottom of the hole. Finally, I got its head positioned right and pulled the fish up onto the ice. After some quick pics and a measurement, I released the laker back into the water. It was a great way to end the morning. I am thankful that there is still one lake left to ice fish on since most of the ice belt is already on the water in boats. The time will come for me to transition back to the open water soon enough, but for now, I'll enjoy the last of the ice while it's still around.