Thursday, January 28, 2016

A short guide to ice fishing

by Victoria Kinkler
guest blogger, winter activity enthusiast

Fishing isn't just a warm water activity in Spearfish; ice fishing yields tasty trout year round, and the Forest Service says ice fishing is permitted on all lakes within the Black Hills National Forest.

All you need is:
  1. South Dakota fishing license
  2. Ice auger
  3. Ice fishing pole & bait
  4. A propane heater and an ice shack--not necessary per se, but worthy investments
  5. shoes with good traction 

Make sure to have a full tank of gas when traveling in the winter and to check the forecast before you head out.  

Ready to go?

Popular ice fishing spots include:
  • Nearby Roubiax Lake, whose campground is open all year if you're up for camping it. Just be sure to have sleeping bags and other equipment designed for subzero temperatures--and never sleep with a propane heater on!
  • Iron Creek Lake is another promising prospect as it is packed with rainbow trout.  The convenience store is closed during winter, so bring all you need with you.  
  • Orman Dam  on Owl creek provides the opportunity to catch walleye, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch.  

Keep this in mind: 

Safe ice thickness as recommended by the North Dakota department of Game Fish and Parks

Have fun out on the lake!

And look for the 2016 Spearfish activity guide from Visit Spearfish--coming soon!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Climbing and fishing the canyon get a new twist during winter

by Victoria Kinkler
guest blogger, adventurer

While it is well-known that Spearfish Canyon bursts with summertime recreation activities, the tranquil winters pass by with fewer visitors.  

However, the canyon is not one to be underestimated and shines just as brightly in the winter.  

Spearfish Canyon is full of secrets, for those willing to listen.  

For example, while rock climbing the canyon brings you to magnificent overlooks, the opportunity to ice climb exists only between November and February.  

Local favorites include:
  • 11th Hour, a short hike in a mysterious little ravine straight of JRR Tolkien
  • Community Caves, prehistoric mini-caverns with ice sickles like stalagmites
  • Bridal Veil Falls, the well-known tourist must-stop...except all to yourself!
Though the fall scenery gets the lion's share of attention, winter in the canyon is exquisite. 

First, there are the colors.  Everything peppered in white, while yellow shrubs and towering pines poke through the frosty blanket.

Then, there's the peace.  The most pristine, beautiful quiet you can imagine.  

The hushed creek babbles in the background, and a couple snow birds croon a winter song.

Other than's just you.  A perfect place to think about everything.  Or to just day dream.

Speaking of the hushed creek--it doesn't freeze over in the winter.  This means fishing is on the table year-round. 

Fly fishing for trout is the most common method for fishing the creek, and popular spots include those near the natural and man-made waterfalls found throughout the canyon.

Lastly, snowmobiling!  Do I need to say more?  You can rent one locally or trailer your own in--just be certain you stay on public trails.  The National Forest near Spearfish is known to be some of the best snowmobiling in the US.

If you've never been snowmobiling, I strongly recommend it.  It's a good way to cover a lot of ground, maximizing the sights and scenes of your adventure. 

Make sure to always bring good shoes and proper winter attire when adventuring during cold, snowy, or icy conditions as cell service is spotty at best.

It also never hurts to bring a camera and a friend!  

Friday, January 15, 2016

Something Old, Something New

by Victoria Kinkler
guest blogger, intern

Steak.  Seafood.  Cocktails.  The new smokehouse in Spearfish has it all!  Dubbed “Steerfish” as a tribute to the cuisine, this casual dining experience is located down town in the historic Lown Mercantile building.  It was first built as a general store of sorts, and word is that the Lown family was extremely generous with credit during the Great Depression. 
Many businesses of different industries have occupied the Lown building since its construction from local sandstone 123 years ago, but the rustic country-style smokehouse is a perfect fit for the beautiful structure.   

Warm light pours out of the massive windows, and the smell of smoky goodness wafts outside as I pull on the ornate, well-worn doorknob.  My friend and I are seated at the wooden bar, in front of 23 taps and a smiling bar tender.  Next to us, a small crowd huddles in front of a flat screen displaying the NCAA championship. 

We both order a bloody mary, which the bar tender fills with vodka that is infused with peppers in-house.  As I browse the menu, the manager recommends the smoked fish tacodillos.  But I am anxious to put their fresh seafood to the test,  so I order an appetizer; mussels in cream sauce with bacon and andouille. 

“This is easily the best bloody in town” my friend says as a server places a cheese and onion covered platter of mussels in front of us.  Cracking a mussel open, I survey the steakhouse.  

It’s pretty full for a Monday night.  The crowd is mostly young.  Servers dressed in black are floating around, carrying steaming steaks the size of brontosaurus burgers. 

My people watching is disturbed by the owner, who asks “How are the mussels?”  I nod with my mouth full. 

“How is the sauce?  Sometimes people ask if they can lick it off the plate!”  The cream sauce is delicious.  It’s made with Deschutes Black Butte Porter.    

I run my hand across the detailed wooden bar, finishing my "larry's spicy mary" and waiting for our check.

“What’s your happy hour deal?” my friend inquires when the bar tender arrives.  She says appetizers are half price between 3-6pm, and so are drinks!

We are hooked and will be back to the steakhouse on 5th Street to sample more of Steerfish’s menu.

You can find an extensive list of dining options in Spearfish here.