BRULE COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — It’s not just farms and ranches that are feeling the heat from the drought. South Dakota’s lakes and rivers are drying up because of the lack of rain and the hottest June on record for the state.
As the sun goes down over Brule County, so do the water levels on area rivers and lakes.
Raymond Pickner, Marina Manager Arrowood at Cedar Shore near Oacoma says on the Missouri River the water levels fluctuate with the dam releases upriver. But to him, the water appears to be about 4 to 5 feet lower than other years. Pickner says a few miles north and south of the Chamberlain area more trees are exposed and pose a danger to boaters.
But there is something unexpected going on.
“The thing about the low water I haven’t seen is how good the fishing still is on this reservoir. The fishing is just phenomenal right now. And I don’t know if it’s just because we are losing water or what it is but yea the fishing is really good right now,” said Pickner.
Mike Klinedinst, usually fishes near Platte but this year he and his friends are spending more time near Chamberlain. He says the water level seems to be down a bit but he’s not complaining.
“The fish are running a little deeper I think because the water is warmer, but the water level is good right now, here in Chamberlain you gotta know where the channel is, you know you gotta stay in the channel going up north if you don’t then you are in 4 foot of water in a hurry,” said Klinedinst.
He says it has been the best fishing he’s seen in 4 years. He hopes the water levels don’t go any lower.
Mark Ohm, regional supervisor for the South Dakota Department of Game Fish & Parks says lower water levels are exposing some obstructions that would not normally be a problem.
“You are seeing some obstructions that wouldn’t normally be a problem, some boat ramps are difficult to use because of the low water so it really pays to do a little bit of research before you head out and make sure where you are going inaccessible, that there aren’t any hidden dangers out there,” said Ohm.
Recent rains have helped in some areas of Brule County but Ohm says everyone knows another few weeks of dry weather will put them right back in serious drought conditions.