It’s finally been above freezing for the last few days, and the fishing has been fantastic! The warmer weather has brought quite a few fish to the surface most days, and the nymphing has been great if they’re not on the surface. The weather over the next few days looks to be in the high twenties to low thirties, which is a heck of a lot better than it has been for the past month!
Rapid Creek in town has been one of the best bets for consistent fishing, and also has the most consistent dry fly fishing of just about anywhere in the Black Hills during the winter months. This week has seen the start of a good midge hatch that should last well into March. The fish have definitely taken notice of all the little bugs on the water and have been eating them very consistently. Hans and Dave were out in town mid week last week and had some incredible dry fly fishing – Hans went so far as to catch them on Hippie Stompers. Most of the bugs will be on the surface around 10am or a little after, and will typically be around in good numbers until noon or after. The fish aren’t terribly particular usually, but having a decent selection of midge dries will give you a bit of an edge. Morgan’s Midges, Eric’s Midges, Griffith’s Gnats, F-Flies, Midge Clusters, and small Parachute Adams are all good bets in a size 16-22 depending on how picky the fish are on any given day. You can get away with 5x sometimes, but 6x is generally a better option. If there isn’t much going on on the surface, fish your favorite jig fly or a Boat Anchor Scud trailed by a Two Bit Hooker, Purple Zebra Midge, Skinny Nelson, or whatever your favorite midge larva pattern is. Small streamer patterns have been moving some better fish in town as well. Stick in the 1.5-3″ range and you’ll catch a lot more fish than fishing really big stuff. Rapid Creek below Pactola has been fishing well, but the water is pretty low and it has the fish moved into less spots than they typically would be in. There hasn’t been a whole lot for surface activity, but that should improve throughout February. Streamers have probably been moving the most fish, but they’ve been a little shy of committing some days. just keep changing colors until you find what they dig on any given day. Nymphing the deeper slots and holes has been the most productive method. I would fish some sort of scud or worm pattern trailed by a small annelid, midge, or baetis pattern. Make sure and get it right in front of their face, as they’re not going to be inclined to move very far with the colder water.
Spearfish Creek in town has been fishing great! Nymphing has been the most productive technique lately since the water is really cold. I would fish a similar rig to what we’ve been using up there for most all of this last year. For the first fly, I would fish a jig pattern in a size 12-14. Pheasant Tails, Soft Spots, Sweet Peas, Hare’s Ears, and Party Crashers are all good bets. A lot of the time we’re just using the lead fly as a means of weight to get down to where the fish are, but you’ll catch the occasional fish on them most days and some days you’ll catch most of your fish on them! The dropper fly has been the moneymaker lately. Various colors of Zebra Midges, Green Weenies, Two Bit Hookers, T Ready Baetis, and a variety of other little things have been working well. Fish a little slower water than you typically would look for on Spearfish Creek. The water is cold and the fish aren’t going to be in the super fast stuff, but they’re more than willing to eat!
Sand Creek and Crow Creek are fishing well, and it’s too cold for there to be many snakes around. Dry fly fishing is always an option this time of year, and there can be some excellent hatches. Sand Creek has some incredibly good midge and BWO hatches, and as we head into February I wouldn’t head up there without a good selection of smaller dries. CDC Thorax Duns, F-Flies, Sparkle Duns, Comparaduns, Morgan’s Midges and Griffith’s Gnats are all good bets if you can find some rising fish. If you’re going to nymph, I would use the good ol’ scud and a midge or baetis. Boat Anchor Scuds or Hunchback Scuds work well for the lead pattern. Zebra Midges, Cheesman Canyon Emergers, Two Bit Hookers, and Green Weenies are good bets that will probably pick up most of your fish.
Overall, the weather has improved and the fishing has been excellent. The weather over the next week looks to be conducive to doing some fishing, so I would get out while the weather allows. Swing by the shop and we can show you the bugs that we dig and get you pointed in the right direction!