Angling opportunities abound in South Dakota: Mark Ermer

Mark Ermer
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks
Mark Ermer, Senior Wildlife Biologist with South Dakota Game, FIsh and Parks.

Now that fall is upon us and Halloween is just around the corner, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind anglers of some fall and winter fishing opportunities in and around our larger communities. We recently stocked rainbow trout in Wylie Lake in Aberdeen and Lion’s Ponds, also known as 3rd Avenue Pond, in Watertown. Rainbow Trout do not typically occur in such water bodies in this part of the state due to warm temperatures in the summer. But, we stock them to create unique fishing opportunities near our large population centers. Trout need cold water to survive so that is why we stock them in the early spring and fall to take advantage of the cool water periods in these ponds.

Our goal with these community fisheries is to create angling opportunities to encourage more families and new folks to become lifelong anglers. Rainbow trout are great for this opportunity because they are aggressive feeders, put up a great fight and provide unique table fare for this part of South Dakota. It actually takes about 18 months to raise these catchable trout to an 11” size in our cold-water hatcheries in the Black Hills. They are then transported across the state so we can stock them in these community ponds.

Trout can be easy to catch; even with very simple angling techniques like a baited hook set three to four feet under a bobber. Some of the best baits to use for trout include whole kernel corn, a small piece of night crawler, or commercially available baits like Berkley trout nuggets. For those seeking a more active type of fishing, casting small flashy spinners like Mepps or Blue Fox spinners can also be a great way to catch trout. For anyone that has always wanted to try fly fishing, these community trout fisheries are a great place to hone your skills. Simple flies like a small wooly bugger, a small streamer, or a beaded nymph can be great choices when fly fishing.

Once safe ice develops on these community ponds, don’t forget about the angling opportunities to be had. Many trout will still be available, and it is an absolute blast to wrangle these aggressive fish up through a hole in the ice. Most small ice fishing jigs tipped with a wax worm should work great through the ice. The daily limit on trout is five, so feel free to take some of these fish home, bake them in the oven, and enjoy a healthy meal. Good luck fishing!

Mark Emer is a Senior Wildlife Biologist with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks.