We received some much needed moisture this week, though most of it fell as rain rather than the forecasted snow. We’ll take it either way we can get it. The fishing has been fantastic, with just about every stream in the Black Hills fishing well. A few streams were running a little high and dirty after the rain, but they have since cleared up and are fishing great again. The weather for this weekend and the coming week looks to be fantastic – it’s going to be a great week to be on the water in the Black Hills!
Fishing on Rapid Creek has been nothing short of excellent, with some great dry fly fishing opportunities! Below Pactola has seen sporadic emergences of both midges and Blue Winged Olives, but the fish have been a little on the skeptical side of them some days. I’d be prepared if you’re heading to the basin however with a few F-Flies, Students, Comparaduns, Morgan’s Midges, and CDC Thorax Duns in size 18-24 depending on how moody the fish decide to be. Nymphing has been a much more consistent bet below the dam, with fish eating a pretty wide variety of flies. I’ve been finding success with bright lead patterns. Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Flashback Sowbugs, Boat Anchor Scuds, and G-String Worms have all been working pretty well for me. Most days the fish won’t necessarily eat the big, bright lead pattern, so you’ll have to put a small dropper on to pick up a few more fish. I’m partial to Three Dollar Dips, Serendipities, Tungsten Split Back BWO’s, Rainbow Warriors, and whatever flavor of midge you prefer. Streamer fishing has been excellent as well, with Lil’ Kims, Home Invaders, Kreelexes, Sex Dungeons, and Circus Peanuts all moving fish. Light RIO Versileaders are almost a necessity to get your flies down in the water column and keep them there – I like something in the 3-4 inch per second sink rate, with 10 pound Maxima on the business end of things. As a side note, be courteous of the spawning rainbows in the creek right now. There’s a lot of really, really big rainbows that are in shallow water spawning and are incredibly vulnerable. It’s easy to get greedy and try to catch one of these fish and get a glory shot, but it’s not an angling accomplishment by any means and it hurts the health of the fishery. Be mindful of the spawning fish and you’ll be looking out for the health of the creek! Rapid Creek through town has been fishing great with dry flies most days. Blue Winged Olives are coming off in abundance, and you can fish dries for a good portion of the day. The fish start taking emergers around 10 most days, and the adults are on the water starting around noon. Depending on how thick the hatch is and the weather, the fish will eat them until 4 or 5 in the afternoon. Theoretically, you could get a 6 or 7 hour day of dry fly fishing right in town. Fly-wise, the fish haven’t been terribly picky but you need to be on the money with the size of your fly. Students, F-Flies, CDC Thorax Duns, Sparkle Duns, Brook’s Sprout Emergers, and the regular ol’ Parachute BWO in sizes 16-20 have all been getting attention from the fish. Fish 6x, and be a bit stealthy and you’ll do great! The rises have been pretty subtle, so take your time if you’re in something that looks like a good dry fly flat. Nymphing has been good as well, but the fish have transitioned to eating a bit smaller flies. Root Beer Midges, Two Bit Hookers, Cheesman Canyon Emergers, and size 16 jigs will get it done. Don’t be afraid to fish the shin-deep water!
Spring Creek has been fishing well, both on the bridges and up on the trailhead. The fish have been favoring water that’s moving a touch faster than the froggy pools, but the water’s still darn cold so don’t overlook the slow stuff either. Some of the flies we’ve been using have been Jig Hare’s Ears, Jig Pheasant Tails, Jig Assassins, Hot Spot PT’s, and Tungsten Rainbow Czechs in size 12-16. If the trouts get picky, put a Three Dollar Dip, Serendipity, Root Beer Midge, Bubble Back Midge, or Tungsten Split Back BWO in size 16-20 on as a dropper. The fish on Spring Creek aren’t as tippet shy, and you can often get away with 5x or even 4x on a larger fly. As with Rapid Creek, there’s been a healthy emergence of Blue Winged Olives most days and the fish have been up on them in good numbers! Use the same patterns as Rapid Creek in town, and stay a bit back from the fish as they’ve been a touch on the spooky side, lengthen your cast out to 25-30 feet and you’ll do great.
Spearfish Creek has bumped up about 10 cfs from the moisture, which will put it at a great flow for the entire creek. The upper canyon from Savoy upstream has been fishing great, with smaller flies producing best. Small Jig Prince Nymphs, Jig Pheasant Tails, and Jig Assassins in size 16 have been good bets, with a Cheesman Canyon Emerger, Two Bit Hooker, or Tungsten Split Back BWO dropper below if they get picky. From Savoy down to the north end of Spearfish, you can get away with a bit bigger flies. Jig Assassins, Jig Pheasant Tails, Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Bloom’s Tungsten Weight Fly, and Red Fox Squirrel Nymphs are great options for a lead fly. Trail a Root Beer Midge, Three Dollar Dip, or Two Bit Hooker off the back to pick up a couple bonus fish. Focus on a bit slower water rather than the really fast edges and you’ll do well!
Box Elder Creek is fishing fantastic for smaller brookies and browns. Steamboat Rock is a good point to start at, as well as above Nemo towards the Box Elder Forks campground. The fish here aren’t super selective by any means, but presentation is still important. Root Beer Midges, Three Dollar Dips, and any other 14-18 impressionistic nymph will get a lot of interest!
Crow Creek and Sand Creek are still fishing great with dry flies! Blue Winged Olives are the bugs of choice. Students, F-Flies, Comparaduns, and Hackle Stackers are solid bets in a size 16-20. The fish on these creeks generally aren’t too selective, but they are spooky. Be mindful of your presentation and your position in relation to the fish. Nymphing is just fine as well, with many of the same flies as Spearfish and Rapid Creeks working well. Don’t overlook any small little slot or edge on these creeks, as the bank is often undercut several feet and some of the biggest fish sit in spots like that.
Pike fishing has begun on Pactola! We got out earlier this week and landed five and had several other shots at good fish. The warm weather next week will get the big boys pushed up into the smaller water! Give us a call if you want to sign up for our pike class, or to book one of our pike guided trips. Here’s more info on the trips and classes – Black Hills Pike Guided Trips
Fishing is great, period. Stop by the shop to grab a few hot flies, pick our brains on places to go, or to book one of our expert Black Hills fly fishing guides for a day. Get out there and fish!