Some people probably are loving this extremely warm start to the winter we have been experiencing across the region. Well, I for one, cannot stand it! Temperatures have been in the high 50s to low 70s for nearly two weeks now and as a result, none of the big lakes in the Black Hills area are close to freezing yet and even some of the smaller ones that were iced over with at least 4" before Friday, are now nearly wide open, and those that have walkable ice on them, require extreme caution and every piece of safety I own before getting on them. Such was the case with a trip earlier this week.
Matt and I had planned a trip to Sylvan Lake this week, since last Friday proved to be a good day with 4" of solid ice and some good fighting trout action for the group with me. We only had a few hours to fish as I had to be at work later, so we made our plans and included all our safety in the planning since this is still first ice and it has been warm in the lower elevations.
We didn't think we'd have to worry too much about Sylvan, since it was good last week and it was higher up in elevation. What we didn't plan for the temperature inversion in the area. The temperature increased to our amazement as we headed further up to the lake and when we got to the lake, we were even more in shock to see a wide-open lake! We couldn't believe it. After a few expletives were said, we decided to head for our back-up lake/pond that was frozen over when we passed it ten minutes before.
When we arrived at that pond, we didn't even grab any of our fishing gear. The ice needed to be checked first so we grabbed our boot cleats, neck spikes, spud bars and safety rope and walked down to the shoreline. I would go on ice first since I had all the gear plus my Clam Outdoors Lift suit I was wearing, would help keep my head above water should I fall through.
As I prodded along the ice, hitting it every few feet, I was glad to see that it was strong and at least 4" still. After determining that the area we were going to fish on was ok, I drilled a hole and took a measurement to see how thick and it was 4.5". After drilling our holes and putting out a few Arctic Warriors to see where the trout were swimming through, we fished for the next few hours.
The Warrior setups helped us find where the trout, mostly on the small side, were at and drilled holes nearby and caught a few more with on Clam Drop Kick jigs and chartreuse plastics. The Warriors helped us figure out what color they were keying on as well. A good spread of Arctic Warriors can help you figure out where the fish are as well as what they want. We'll be using them a lot this season in this manner.
The time out was short, as it always is and it was time to head back before too long, but at least there was still one place with decent ice on it to fish with this seemingly never-ending heat spell. Thankfully, the weather is finally going to turn next week as lows dip into the teens and high won't be too much above freezing. Better ice and better times are coming soon, so be patient and above all, be safe out there!