SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The ice has melted on most of the South Dakota lakes but docks are not installed yet in all lakes, according to a state Game Fish and Parks (GFP) map.
The GFP said on the lake map that a dock was to be installed today, (May 8) at the Bullhead lake lakeside use area ramp and the public water access (PWA) map at the Lake City Map on Cottonwood Lake would also be installed today. The GFP also said that Cottonwood Lake had a winter kill this year. The two lakes are in Marshall County is northeastern South Dakota.
The north-central and northeastern part of the state had some of the most and latest snow of the season. Snow and ice covered lakes in those areas.
“The ice completely went off on May 4,” Ron Belden said of Pickerel Lake, a 955-acre lake in Day County. Belden has owned Pickerel Lodge since 2018. Although it is a late ice melt, Belden said the latest full melt he’s recorded was on May 10.
Anglers are ready for fishing in May.
“Now that we’ve got the ice off, the phone’s been fairly busy,” Belden said. May fishing reservations are very weather dependent, Belden said. “Our summer reservations are really strong,” he said.
“All the ice is gone on all the lakes,” said Lisa Buchholz of The Bait Box in Lake Preston. Lake Preston is in the midst of several lakes including Lake Thompson, Lake Whitewood, and Lake Albert. Lake Preston is in Kingsbury County.
Bait Box general manager Lincoln Horsman said a ramp dock on the east side of Lake Thompson was not yet open because of shallow water but that’s not unusual. That area “is kind of hit and miss,” he said.
The ice fishing season was good in the area, she said.
After the ice had been gone about week, anglers were again fishing, Horsman said.
“This spring we’ve had some awesome fishing. The fishing has been very good this week,” Horsman said.
Anglers were fishing from shore on Blue Dog Lake near Webster, said David Hawkinson, the owner of the Fisherman’s Village in rural Waubay.
Hawkinson said he’s seen this month’s high lake water levels before in the 24 years he’s owned his business.
The ice has been out of nearby lakes since at least before May 1, he said.
“Bitter (Lake) is usually the last one,” Hawkinson said.
As of late April and early May, some docks on the area’s lakes were still not open, according to the GFP map website. In late April, the South Blue Dog LUA ramp was listed as flooded. The docks has not yet been installed in other lakes such as parts of Waubay.
Big Stone Lake is a border lake in Roberts County northeast of Lake Preston.
The dock has been installed at Hartford Beach State Park on the South Dakota side of the lake. The update was as of May 1. The dock was in at Big Stone Hiawatha WAA as of the latest update on May 5. The dock was also in at Big Stone Kasuske’s WAA boat ramp as of May 3.
The GFP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also manage docks along the Missouri River. The GFP also has docks in waters near the river.
In April of 2022, the GFP was working with the Army Corps to ensure that as much access as possible was available for fishing at Lake Oahe while the river had low water levels.
As of May 5, the GFP said on its map about the Chantier Creek LUA ramp near Pierre that “with rising water elevations, GFP staff is monitoring this ramp to place in service as soon as conditions allow. ” It had been closed for at least some part of 2022 because of low water.
The Army Corps tracks the water elevation of several boat ramp areas along the Missouri River. For example, the top elevation for the Antelope Creek boat ramp is 1424.3 while the bottom elevation is 1411.3.
An Army Corps spokesperson Eileen Williamson said that in general, a dock would in place between the top and bottom water elevations. Or that the ramp would be accessible between those elevations.
Some of the lower water ramps were extended during the drought of the early 2000s. Yet, that doesn’t mean ramps are instantly open despite lower elevations, Williamson said. Silt may need to be removed or maintenance may need to be done before they are fully accessible, she said.