We’re cooling down over the next couple days in the Black Hills, and it’s starting to look more like fall with a chance of snow. The sub-freezing temperatures forecast for the next couple mornings will make for a cold start to your day, but won’t affect the fishing much. Throughout the Black Hills the fish have been pretty willing, and we’ve had some great days over the past week with some happy folks out on the water. Most of the people that frequent Black Hills streams have switched from waders to hunting boots, so the streams have been pretty darn quiet!
Rapid Creek above the lake is at it’s normal low water fall flow, and the fish are going to mostly be found in the deeper slots and holes. There have been some bigger browns that have moved out of the lake into the lower portions of Rapid Creek, so don’t be afraid to throw some bigger streamers like Lil’ Kims, Doc’s Articulators, and Circus Peanuts on a light sink tip. If you’re not fishing streamers, I would recommend fishing larger nymphs in the more obvious holes. Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Worms, Boat Anchors, and various jig patterns trailed by a Root Beer Midge or Serendipity will get the job done. Make sure you’re fishing right on the bottom or darn close and you’ll find some fish. Below Pactola has been fishing well, and hasn’t been particularly busy lately. Surprisingly, you can still find a good number of fish with various terrestrial patterns. Morrish Hoppers, Hi Viz Beetles, Big Secret Crickets, and Klinkhamers have been moving a good number of fish, but might only last a couple more days after we get the first few freezes. There’s a good midge hatch throughout the day, but the bugs are super tiny. I’d fish a size 22-24 Morgan’s Midge with a Cheesman Canyon Emerger below it and hope to fool a couple. Nymphing has been good as well, with the standard scud and a midge or BWO trailer getting the job done. Streamer fishing is a viable option as well, with the same flies as above the lake working well. Just keep changing until you find what they dig on any given day! Fishing in town has been fantastic. For dries, there are Tricos that end up on the water mid-morning to early afternoon, as well as BWO’s throughout the afternoon. There are fish in mere inches of water, so don’t overlook the long shallow runs. Nymphing has been a good bet in the deeper holes, with many of the same flies as the last few weeks producing fish. I like a jig fly in whatever flavor for your lead fly in a 14-16, trailed by a Zebra Midge or Root Beer Midge on 6x. There’s a ton of fish in town right now, and they’re willing to eat and are fat and sassy!
Spearfish Creek has been fishing very well, and the leaves in the water have become less of an issue. If you’re fishing in the canyon you could run into a good Blue Winged Olive hatch in the early afternoon. If you run into some fish on the surface, try a Comparadun, Smoke Jumper, CDC Baetis, or the good ol’ Parachute Adams in a size 18-20 on 6x. Fish a long tippet and you’ll get a better drift and catch more fish! Nymphing has been consistently good both in the canyon and in town in Spearfish. Various jig flies have been working for lead patterns, as well as San Juan Worms. I’d stick in the 12-14 size range for your lead fly, and trail that with a size 16 jig or a smaller baetis or midge pattern. Sweet Pea Jigs have been especially good in town. Spearfish is one of your best options in the Black Hills right now, and the fish are extremely healthy!
Castle Creek below Deerfield has been fishing well. There’s a good BWO hatch midday, so come prepared with a few Comaparaduns, Sparkle Duns, Students, CDC Baetis, or Parachute BWO in size 16-20 depending on how picky the fish are. If you don’t see many rising fish, try a smaller terrestrial pattern with a smaller tungsten trailer pattern. Hippie Stompers will move a few fish, and they make really great indicator flies as well. If you want something that will move a few more fish to the surface, try a Hi Viz Beetle or Klinkhamer. Drop a Tungsten Psycho, Tung Teaser, Tungsten Zebra Midge, or a small jig fly a couple feet below it. Make sure and fish everything, as there can be fish in just a few inches of water. The brook trout are beautiful this time of year, and they’re really colored up!
Crow Creek and Sand Creek are fishing well, and the weeds are down which will make fishing significantly easier. Dry-droppers are usually a very effective way to fish both of these creeks, as the fish are usually pretty willing to look up. I like smaller flies here, so try an Eric’s Midge, Student, Brook’s Sprout Emerger, or Sipper Midge for your dry fly. Trail a small midge pattern, Split Back Baetis, Cheesman Canyon Emerger, or Root Beer Midge a couple feet below the dry to pick up a few bonus fish.
All of the smaller lakes in the Black Hills are fishing really well right now. Center, Sylvan, Horsethief, and even the bays at Pactola have a lot of trout in them. I really like Mini Leeches and smaller Lil’ Kims fished on an intermediate tip or intermediate line. If the fish get picky, put a size 12-14 Prince Nymph or Red Fox Squirrel Nymph and strip it slowly. Vary your retrieve and depth until you figure out what the fish like on any given day!
Overall the fishing continues to be fantastic! The weather has cooled down a bit, and the fish are happy. Stop by the shop and we can get you the right bugs and head you in the right direction!