The end is slowly drawing near on the ice season around the Black Hills. While a few higher lakes are still good for both ice thickness and access, but many other lakes are opening or seeing shore access to ice going away.
While the late ice season tends to be pretty good as far as the bite goes, it is a bit off right now, but could improve for the lakes that still have ice on them in the next couple of weeks or so. Many anglers are already gearing up their boats or have put away their ice gear for the season and brought the long rods back out.
Temperatures over the next week or so may keep some from heading out to tempt their luck on early open water, with highs not getting much in the 40s. It is possible some ice access could return to various lakes, but caution should be advised and it is definitely the time to get the ice safety gear back on again, such as float suits, ice picks, spud bar, and safety rope. With these conditions in mind, here's the current report from the regional waters:
Angostura and Belle Fourche Reservoirs have opened in places, though fishing activity is at a standstill until docks are put in for the most part. Some shore fishing is going on and a few boats were spotted on the south side of Angostura though earlier this week.
Orman, while having open water, still has a large amount of ice on it so it'll be a bit longer before the docks go in or there's enough room for boats to put out. Access to the ice on Pactola is getting very difficult as most of the shoreline has melted, though some access is still available in some spots or back in Jenny Gulch, but you may need a plank of wood to get on it.
Perch and Rainbows are biting decently, including some dandy ones hitting on jigs with plastic shrimp imitations. Stockade has extremely stained water right now from all the runoff coming into the lake and the ice is getting very honeycombed. The bite is also slow with mainly small perch and gills biting at present. Ice season may be done soon there.
Sheridan is still ice covered though shorelines were opening in spots earlier this week. Some bluegill and bass activity are happening in bays and off points.
The trout lakes of Center, Lakota, Mitchell, Horsethief, and Sylvan have varying ice conditions and bites. On Center, access is getting hard as much of the shoreline opened and refroze recently and there is a decent rainbow bite, though size is small.
Lakota still has thick ice and good access, but the trout bite is a bit slow. Reports from the others suggest the same. Deerfield, as usual, still has good access and thick ice, anywhere from 22"-30". UTVs are still getting on the lake with ease and the perch are still biting once they are found. With the coming cooler weather this week and next, the lake will provide another few week or so of ice for those not willing to put the ice gear away yet (myself included).
As always with late ice, be safe, bring a buddy, and bring out the safety gear again. The bite may improve on the lakes with good ice left but be cautious and check conditions. For those dying to get the boats out, it may be a bit longer for you, but the open water season will happen eventually. Either way, be sure to wet a line when you get the chance!