Things are beginning to warm up around the Black Hills as the month of March came in hard with the blizzard a couple of weeks ago, but now things are transitioning to spring. Around here, though, warmer weather doesn't necessarily mean thinner ice, at least not for a bit yet.
I was up on Deerfield on one of the last cold days we've had since the blizzard to see if the big rainbows were still in the area. I hadn't been there in a few weeks, but in that time, the ice has certainly thickened.
Now the ice is nearly 3 feet thick and I almost need to add an extension onto my K-Drill (which I don't have--purchase for next season) and there are plenty of locations across the ice belt also dealing with very thick ice if you've following any of the action from Lake of the Woods or Lake Winnipeg.
My preferred area, most of the ice season, has started to slow down as the larger fish have moved on and their slightly smaller brethren have come in their place. The numbers were still there, but the size has gone down.
Using a rapid cadence involving a Clam Pro Tackle Drop Kick jig paired with pink or chartreuse Craigis from Maki Plastics, the fish were still aggressive with the lures and though a bit smaller, they are still great fighters. I've been using 28" Perch/Walleye spoon rod from the new St. Croix Custom Ice series from St. Croix Rods for my trout excursions this season and it has been an awesome rod for the hard-fighting fish.
The rod is extremely sensitive where I can reel the lighter bites but has the backbone to control the fish even after repeated runs. Paired with the new, smooth, and extra affordable ICX-5 reel from Piscifun, it has been a dynamite combination to haul in rainbows with and numerous rainbows came through the ice this morning.
The ice at Deerfield will be good for the time being even with the warming weather. Being higher up in elevation, it'll be the last safe lake to get on once the lower lakes start opening at the shorelines. So, while some may be getting ready for the open water season in this and other areas, the ice season is still in full effect for myself and other diehards.
We'll be fishing these lakes until we can't get on them anymore! Be safe on the late ice and be sure to bring the auger extensions if you need them and enjoy the hardwater while it's still around.