Fishing throughout the Black Hills continues to be great, and the streams are all pretty vacant for the most part. This time of year offers some of our favorite fishing, and is generally pretty productive regardless of what method you choose to fish. The dry fly fishing has started to get good as well, with a midges hatching on most streams and Blue Winged Olives starting to get fired up. A lot of the smaller streams are starting to open up as well, and the fishing just about everywhere has been great!
Rapid Creek below Pactola has been fishing alright, but the water is a little on the low side. The fish are piled up in the deeper water, and they’re their normal picky selves. Nymphing has been the most consistent option, and I would say the smaller your dropper fly the better off you’re going to be. I would use something big and bright for a lead fly. G-Strings, Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Boat Anchor Scuds, and bigger Tungsten jigs will all be good attention getters, as well as be heavy enough to get your flies down. For a dropper fly, stuff like Two Bit Hookers, Tungsten Split Case Baetis, Killer Mayfly Nymphs, WD-40s, and various Zebra Midges in size 18-24 will do the trick. Fish light tippet, they’re picky! There’s a few fish on top at certain times eating midges as well, and I would recommend Morgan’s Midges, Griffith’s Gnats, F Flies, Students, and Smoke Jumpers in a size 18-22. Streamer fishing is always an option as well, just keep changing your colors until you find whatever they want on any given day. Fishing below Pactola will continue to improve as soon as they bump the flows up a bit.
Rapid Creek in town has been nothing short of fantastic. There’s a pile of fish just about everywhere, and they’re pretty darn willing to eat. Nymphing has been lights out, especially earlier and later when there’s not many fish up on the surface. I’ve been using the good old jig-and-a-midge almost exclusively and haven’t had many problems catching fish. Various colors of midges have been working well on any given day, so I would have a few different colors and just switch back and forth. Purple has treated me really well, but it seems like the fish can change their preferences from hole to hole and hour to hour. If you run a black midge over fish a dozen times with little reaction, I would change rather than keep pounding them in the head with something they don’t want. The dry fly fishing has been exceptional on cloudier, overcast days! A lot of runs will have a couple dozen fish feeding pretty consistently on the surface, and they’re not terribly particular. F-Flies and Smoke Jumpers in a size 18-20 have been the best bets for fishing on the surface. If you aren’t a dry fly purist, we’ve been doing really well with a Hippie Stomper trailing a tungsten Zebra Midge 18″ or so behind it. It’s incredible how often you’ll get a fish to smash a size 12 Hippie Stomper as well! Streamer fishing has been decent in town as well, as long as you keep your flies pretty small. Size 6-8 Lil’ Kims, Rusty Trombones, and Kreelexes have been good bets.
Spearfish Creek has been fishing rather well, and the canyon is much easier to navigate after a fair amount of the snow has melted. Nymphing has been the most effective most days, but there have been a few windows where the fish have been rising pretty consistently from time to time. For nymphing, jig flies trailed by a smaller baetis or midge pattern. Size 14 Skinny Jigs and Quill Jigs have been good lead flies for me, trailed by a Two Bit Hooker, Zebra Midge, Killer Mayfly Nymph, or Bubble Back Midge in an 18-22. I used the RIO Euro Nymph Leader when I was up there last week and was amazed at how well I would detect strikes without using an indicator, and I hooked more fish than I typically would have if using an indicator – give one a try if you’re heading up. There’s fish in everything that’s over a foot deep it seems like, so don’t walk past much. If you’re not catching fish in Spearfish Creek, you’re oftentimes just not detecting the strikes!
Crow Creek and Sand Creek are fishing well, and are the first two creeks in the Black Hills to get good BWO hatches. CDC Thorax Duns, Students, Sparkle Duns and Comparaduns are solid bets in a size 16-20. These fish generally aren’t terribly selective if you can get it in front of them without spooking them. Nymphing is a good bet on both of these creeks if you don’t see fish on top as well, and the standard jig and a midge setup that we’ve been using about everywhere has been a solid bet.
Overall the fishing continues to be great! We’ve had a few guided trip out over the past couple weeks with good success. There’s very few people out this time of year, so you can have the water pretty much to yourself. Give us a call if you want to book a trip with one of our guides, or swing by the shop and we can get you pointed in the right direction!