Recently I went out to try my luck for pike up at Jenny Gulch on Pactola Reservoir with Randy, a friend who I met on the ice last season. Wanting to use my new Clam Thermal tip-ups for the first time, I agreed to go and fish with him, having never ice fished on that part of the lake before.
Jenny Gulch, however, is well known for having some big pike in it and I've always heard about them being caught each ice season. It would be a bit of a walk to get to the spot he wanted to try, but luckily he had a couple of snowmobiles to make the trek faster. It was nice to be able to pull my Clam Legend flip over shelter with it rather than walk with it as well as the gear in it.
We got to the spot right before sunrise and decided to try and find the bluegills he'd found the week before in the area. As he drilled and checked depths with my Vexilar FLX-28, we found fish at depths of 10' to 16' and around branches from a tree that had fallen in the water.
I tied on my favorite jig, a Clam Pro Tackle Drop Kick in red and paired it with a Maki Jamei (red as well), charged it up with a small light so it glowed bright, and sent it down. There was some interest at first, but nothing would grab it.
As the sun was starting to rise, the marks on the screen started to pick up and soon I hauled up a very nice crappie. Randy was a bit surprised as he'd caught nothing but bluegills the week before, but the size of the fish was a very pleasant surprise at just over 14". It'd been several years since I'd caught any decent sized crappie on Pactola, so I was already happy with the morning.
Several other good sized crappie would follow over the next couple of hours, though the pike did not cooperate other than one small one. As we spread out along the shoreline, we also caught rainbow trout, bluegills and perch, though nothing of any real size.
We packed up a little after 1:00 and decided to give Lakers on the main body of the lake a shot for a couple of hours. We didn't catch any despite our efforts. Still, I called the day a success for finding some nice crappie spots and catching several good ones.
We'll probably be back to try again soon and hopefully the pike will play the game this time. Until then, be sure to get a line wet soon. The bite is hopping pretty well across most of the Black Hills lakes currently, but it won't be long before the winter doldrums kick in within another month.