SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– Drought conditions are making it a little more challenging to get boats in local lakes.
South Dakota Game Fish and Parks says water levels in parts of the southeast corner of the state are the lowest they’ve seen in decades. This creates some challenges for boaters hoping to get back in the water for the last bit of the season.
Boat winterization has begun early at Sodak’s marina on Lake Madison.
“With our water levels there have been some people who have pulled out early due to boats getting suck on lifts and where they are located. Doesn’t technically mean they have to be done boating, it just means it doesn’t work on their lift anymore,” said Brandon Hodne, owner of Sodak Marina.
Brandon Hodne says some boaters didn’t get to take their boats out as much as they would have liked, because the water levels were too low to get the boats out into the lakes.
“The only thing that got held up with some of our customers is where their lake place was on the lake, if they could get in and out of it and their shore being deep enough,” said Hodne.
At Beaver Lake near Humboldt, the water is so low that the concrete boat ramp isn’t even in the lake anymore.
“It’s pretty universal throughout the region, the southeast region, where we are seeing low water levels, in a lot of the natural lakes and the impoundments,” said Kip Rounds, aquatic habitat and access biologist for SD Game, Fish and Parks.
Boaters need to use extra caution when getting into these lower lakes.
“The main thing to keep in mind is just to take it slow, be aware of the conditions, and use extra caution when loading your boat, loading and launching your boat,” said Rounds. “These boat ramps are a lot shallower than folks are used to. Also keep in mind when they are out on the water body themselves there’s a lot of underwater hazards that are normally not an issue on normal water levels and now that the lake levels are a lot lower, those underwater hazards could become an issue.”
In the meantime, outdoor enthusiasts hope to see some precipitation to get the water levels up to normal again.
“I’m hoping Mother Nature does her part and helps us out here this winter, we need a lot of moisture, otherwise, we are probably going to have to be a little bit more mindful the next year as we boat,” said Hodne.
With the low water levels, Game Fish and Parks says there are some concerns for winterkill on some of the really shallow lakes if there is a harsh winter, but they said there shouldn’t be too big of an impact on wildlife and fish.