Water temperatures throughout the Black Hills have been slowly warming up, and the pike fishing continues to get better and better! The water temperatures in the Black Hills lakes are still relatively cold, so the fish aren’t quite in the mood to really chase stuff down and crush it yet. A little smaller flies and heavier sink lines have been getting more attention. That being said, the prairie lakes are warming up much faster and will offer a little more consistent fishing for more average sized-pike. There’s plenty of options, and the fishing will only improve over the next few weeks!
Pactola is still cold, but there are a good number of fish around. We were out a couple days ago looking around, and we saw a pretty surprising amount of pike in water 5-10′ deep. The smaller ones were a lot more interested, but there were some enormous pike around as well that were a bit more lethargic. The water is in the 45 degree range, and should continue to rise with the warmer weather coming after today. I would use smaller flies in the 4-8″ range until the water warms up to 50-55 degrees and the fish become considerably more active. EP Baitfish in a 2/0-4/0 are great bets, as well as Piketola minnows in various colors. Black seems to always be a good bet on Pactola, but if the fish aren’t responding well to whatever you have on keep changing. Don’t be afraid to trim your flies back or go to a little smaller one if the pike seem a little skittish as well. Make sure you’re fishing some sort of fluoro leader in 60-80 pound and you’ll get a lot more looks and strikes due to the super clear water. Pactola definitely isn’t a place where you’re typically going to go and catch ten, so keep casting and you’ll eventually get one of the big ones to eat. Persistence pays at Pactola.
Sheridan Lake has a good number of pike moving around. We were there on Saturday and saw good numbers of fish in super shallow water. Some of them were paired up and obviously spawning, and didn’t really give much thought to what we were throwing at them. These preoccupied fish are typically difficult to get to do much, so back out into water that’s a bit deeper to find fish that either haven’t started or are already done spawning. Water in the 3-6 foot range should hold a lot of fish right now. The water was in the 47-50 degree range, which is just a little shy of perfect. As the fish finish up spawning the fishing will improve as well, so the coming weeks should be great. I’d recommend a little smaller flies on Sheridan, as the pike are typically a little smaller. Murdich Minnows are a good pike fly that will pick up the occasional smallie or largemouth as well. Stuff in the 4-6″ range will be good at Sheridan.
Various prairie lakes are fishing well for those willing to go out and explore. Tisdale, Bear Butte, Owens, and many other local lakes offer good fishing for pike in the 2-6 pound range, with the occasional 10-15 pounder thrown in. If you’re feeling exceptionally adventurous, the pike on Oahe are shallow right now and they’re real big. I’d fish big flies on an intermediate line and look for any kind of structure that would give the fish a reason to stick around. I don’t think it will be a numbers game at all, but there’s the opportunity for a truly enormous pike on Oahe.
Don’t forget about our pike tying and fishing classes coming up! We have a couple spots open in our tying class tomorrow from 6-8pm, as well as our pike fishing class next Tuesday, April 11th. We’re starting to take bookings for pike guided trips as well. If you want the best learning experience, give us a call at the shop at 605-341-2450 to book a day with one of our guides or to reserve your spot in our upcoming classes!