We’re getting some snow/rain/sleet mix as of this writing, which is a welcome sight. We like the moisture, and so do the trout. Full streams and lakes generally mean happy fish, and happy fish means happy fisher-folks. It’s a recipe for a great fishing season, and the next week looks to be plenty wet. Even with the slightly inclement weather, the fishing all over the Black Hills has been fantastic! There have been great hatches on most of our local streams, and the nymphing has been fantastic. In some places where the water is running a touch dirty, the streamer fishing has been great! If we get a significant amount of moisture out of this storm, streamer fishing will be great with the higher water.
Rapid Creek above Silver City has been running pretty green and dirty. If I was going to head up there, streamer fishing on a sink tip will be your best option to get into a few fish. Home Invaders, Kreelexes, and Lil’ Kims are your best bet. Rapid Creek below Pactola has been fishing exceptionally well, but has been getting a fair amount of pressure on the nicer days. There’s been a great hatch of Blue Winged Olives, and the fish are up eating them, especially on the cloudier, overcast days. Generally the crappier the weather, the more fish seem to rise in the catch and release area. Fly-wise, smaller size 16-22 patterns on 6x tippet will get you the most attention. Students, F-Flies, CDC Thorax Duns, Smoke Jumpers, and even small Parachute Adams have been working great. Your favorite Baetis pattern will probably work as well, but sparse is the key. If the fish aren’t on the surface, nymphing has been fantastic. Don’t be afraid to put a bigger lead pattern on – I like Boat Anchor Scuds for a front fly, and we just got a fresh shipment that was custom-tied in the shop. Stop by and pick up a few! For droppers, try small BWO imitations or midge patterns. Tungsten Split Back BWO’s, Pheasant Tails, Two Bit Hookers, Green Weenies, and whatever color of Bubble Back you dig in a size 16-22 will all be great choices. Make sure you’re getting down to the bottom. Streamer fishing is great as usual, with the same flies as always getting it done. Lil Kims, Home Invaders, Kreelexes, Sex Dungeons, and Circus Peanuts on a 3-4 IPS RIO Versileader and 10 pound Maxima will get the job done and move some big fish! The dry fly fishing on Rapid Creek in town has been spectacular. The BWO’s have been hatching just about every day, and the snowy, crappy weather like the next few days will be ideal conditions for a great hatch. Use the same flies as below Pactola and you’ll do just fine. The rises in town have been pretty subtle, so keep your eyes peeled for any slight surface disturbance. They have been doing some boulder placement in the creek in town, so some days below where they’re working will get a bit off color and the fish won’t rise as readily. If that’s the case, nymphing has been fantastic. I did really well the other day using a size 14 jig as a lead fly and a size 16 Skinny Jig for a dropper. Make sure you fish absolutely everything – there’s fish in ankle deep water as well as the chest deep stuff. Shaun has been doing really well fishing streamers in town, with Lil’ Kims being his best fly. Kreelexes and Sculpzillas are good bets as well. Fish them on a light sink tip and you’ll do just fine.
Spearfish Creek has bumped up a bit from the moisture to 115 cfs, which is a great flow and it makes the fish a little less picky. The canyon has been great, with nymphing being the best tactic. With the higher flows, you can get away with size 12-14 in most of the water, especially in the lower canyon. Party Crashers, Jig Soft Spots, Assassins, Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, and Skinny Jigs have been getting some action. If the fish get a bit pickier, try a Tungsten Split Back BWO, Two Bit Hooker, or Green Weenie for a dropper pattern. There’s a chance for a BWO hatch in the canyon as well, with Savoy Pond, Maurice Intake, or the slower stretches of the upper canyon being your best bets. Students, CDC Thorax Duns, and F-Flies in 18-22 will get the job done. Fishing in Spearfish is great! Many people don’t want to go in town, but the fishing is often as good or better than the canyon, and the fish are often significantly bigger. The same flies as the canyon are going to work great, and I wouldn’t be afraid to throw a worm pattern either, especially if the water comes up a bit.
Castle Creek has been fishing well, with a healthy hatch of Blue Winged Olives coming off below the dam. Students, F-Flies, and CDC Thorax Duns have been working great in sizes 16-20. Both above and below the lake is nymphing great, with many of the same patterns working both places. Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Skinny Jigs, Party Crashers, and Jig Soft Spots are all good bets. If the fish get really picky, put on a small dropper on 6x and you’ll do great. Above the lake should be really good in the coming weeks as the suckers run out of Deerfield to spawn and the rainbows follow them up!
Spring Creek is fishing well, and is getting some much needed moisture. Nymphs to try are pretty similar to Rapid Creek. Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Jig Pheasant Tails, Party Crashers, any variety of worm pattern, and jig Hare’s Ears are good bets in size 12-16. There have been a good number of BWO’s and midges coming off most days, but the fish can get a little picky when both the bugs are hatching at the same time. Morgan’s Midges, F-Flies, Students, small Adams, and Hackle Stackers have been good bets. Keep them small in the size 18-22 range and you’ll stay into the fish.
Crow Creek and Sand Creek are fishing great as always. Crow Creek might get high and muddy over the next few days, depending on how much moisture we get. Sand Creek generally doesn’t blow out as quickly as Crow does. The fishing on both of these creeks has been great, and nymphing with a dry-dropper rig has been the most productive. For the dry, I like something a little bit bigger to hold up a tungsten nymph easier. Klinkhamers, Parachute Adams, big BWO patterns, and even small Stimulators in size 12-16 are nice to hold up bigger flies, as well as be easy to see. You’l also get quite a few fish on the bigger fly, surprisingly! For droppers, Tung Teasers, Psycho Nymphs, Two Bit Hookers, and small jig patterns have been good. Be stealthy on these creeks, as the fish are pretty wary.
Overall it’s been great! We’ve been guiding a few clients over the past weeks, and they’ve been having great success on streams that they have more or less to themselves. April and May are great times of year to be fishing in the Black Hills, there’s hardly anyone around fishing, and the fish are happy and hungry. Hire one of our expert guides for the best Black Hills fly fishing experience possible. You’ll have a great day learning how to fish the small streams of the Black Hills, as well as seeing lots of water and catching wild trout!