The cold weather has finally come to the Black Hills and will be around for a bit consistently over the next couple of weeks. Temperatures won't be getting much higher than the low 40s for a while and the night temps are dipping into the near single digits.
The larger lakes will finally start to lock up and join the smaller ponds and stock dams that have been walk able for weeks now. While there is some good early ice times coming soon, always err on the side of caution before venturing out onto unfamiliar ice.
Bringing all the safety gear is still the most important thing you can have with you. Many of the smaller bodies have close to 6" or more on them now, but it is still important not to take the ice on them for granted. Remembering this, here is the current lake reports from the area:
Angostura and Orman Dam are still wide open with docks still in them for at least another week or so, though boats on the water are few and far between with the colder temps. Some walleye are still being caught by those hardcore enough to test the cold winds, mostly on Lindy rigs or jigs tipped with minnows on Angostura. The cold weather seems to be keeping boats off of Orman with many waiting for early ice conditions to hit up the walleye there.
Pactola and Sheridan are also still open, though the 385 bay on Sheridan is frozen over with a few intrepid ice anglers on it, though waiting another week or so is advised, as the ice isn't very thick yet. Jenny Gulch on Pactola is reported to have iced over, but no reports of any activity on it yet. Fishing at Deerfield is at a standstill until lock-up, though the Gold Run area is iced over and may be ready to receive fishermen within the next week or so. The west side of Stockade is reportedly frozen over with around 3-4" of ice, though extreme caution is advised as the thickness varies considerably there. Might be worth waiting another week.
The trout lakes (Sylvan, Mitchell, Center, Roubaix, and Lakota) are all walk able with anywhere from 4-6" reported and decent bites on all of them. Hardcore ice anglers in the area have been on them for the last couple of weeks, though, as always, caution is advised and safety gear is still a necessity. Trout have been very responsive to glow jigs and larger plastics, particularly pink Clam Pro Tackle Jamei XLs or Maki Craigi's. Working the middle of the water column on them has been the most successful technique.
Within the next couple of weeks, most of the lakes in the Hills will be good to walk on across the area, but ice thickness can still vary, so do not take chances yet. Be sure you have a spud bar, ice picks, boot spikes, safety ropes, life jacket, and most importantly, a buddy with you at all times. As exciting as this time of year is, it isn't worth going through the ice for if you're not sure of conditions.