While pike fishing has been pretty distracting for me recently, fly fishing in the Black Hills has been great! We’re getting a short bout of cooler, overcast weather which should only make the fishing improve. We’ve been getting revved up for guide season, and streams all over the Hills have been fishing fantastic. Whether you like small streams with little wild fish, or prefer a bit more of a challenge with bigger trout, there’s something for you in the Black Hills right now!
Rapid Creek above Pactola is dirty. Below the dam is fishing well, but is seeing a fair amount of pressure recently. Nymphing has been the name of the game, but there have been some limited dry fly opportunities as well. For nymphs, smaller baetis and midge patterns trailed behind a larger pattern have been getting the job done. Green Weenies, Two Bit Hookers, Bubble Back Midges, Split Back BWO’s, and T. Ready Baetis in sizes 16-22 have been doing great as dropper flies. Put them behind a Tungsten Rainbow Czech, Boat Anchor Scud, G-String Worm, Bottom Bouncer Caddis, or Barr’s Tung Teaser in size 12-16. 6x is your friend below Pactola, as well as getting your flies right in front of the fish. There’s so much food below the dam that the fish have little reason to move out of their way to eat anything, especially your fly! This weekend looks to be good conditions for a baetis hatch, so I’d be prepared with a few small BWO’s if I was heading up. Spotlight BWOs, Sparkle Duns, Brook’s Sprout Emerger, Students, and F-Flies in size 18-22 will get some attention if you see consistently rising fish. Streamer fishing has been a popular choice up there recently as well. Circus Peanuts, Home Invaders, Kreelexes, and Lil’ Kims fished on a light sink tip will move some fish. Fishing in town is fabulous, and there’s been some really good dry fly fishing as well. Fish the same flies as below Pactola if you see rising fish, and don’t overlook the skinny water. I’ve caught many fish over the past few months in water that would hardly cover my boot. If the bugs are around, there’s fish in anything that will cover their backs! Nymphing has been great also if the fish aren’t on top. Various jig patterns will work well, including Bottom Bouncer Caddis, Party Crashers, Jig Soft Spots, and Red Fox Squirrel Jigs. Trail a Green Weenie or Three Dollar Dip behind the bigger fly for best results!
We fished Spearfish Creek in the canyon on Tuesday and it was spectacular. Czech nymphing was the technique of choice, and we mostly fished the edges of the fast water. Jig Soft Spots, Jig Assassins, Party Crashers, Jig PTs, and Jig Princes made great lead flies. Jig patterns are great for fishing Spearfish Creek because they get down quickly in the swift water, and they ride hook up so they get snagged a bit less often. Plus, the fish really dig them! I fished a dropper as well, and picked up a number of bonus fish on the smaller fly. Three Dollar Dips were my dropper of choice, but Root Beer Midges, Bubble Backs, Two Bit Hookers, and Green Weenies are solid options as well. As is normally the case with Spearfish, fish everything. Spearfish Creek trout don’t need to be in a three foot deep hole to feel comfortable, so you don’t need to be fishing the deep stuff to catch fish. Don’t let the fast water scare you, and get close, make short casts, and keep all your line up off the water and you’ll do fantastic! Fishing town in Spearfish is incredible as well, so don’t overlook that either.
Castle Creek is fishing really well, especially below the dam. Kinney Canyon walk in area has been fishing well from the parking lot all the way up to the dam, and there’s been very few people up there. Dry-Dropper rigs have been the method of attack for most, with the eager brookies coming about half and half on the dry and nymph. Klinkhamers, Stimulators, Parachute Adams, Purple Hazes, and Elk Hair Caddis are all great dry flies, and they’re easy to see so they make a great indicator as well. For a dropper, try Tung Teasers, Tungsten Psychos, Tungsten Soft Hackle PTs, Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, or whatever your favorite dropper is in size 14-20. The fish below the dam aren’t particularly selective usually, but be stealthy and you’ll find the fish much easier to catch. Above Deerfield the suckers are starting to run out of the lake and the trout are following right behind. Bright nymphs like Rainbow Czechs, Rainbow Warriors, and Boat Anchor Scuds in 12-16 will work well.
Spring Creek has been stocked, and is fishing pretty darn well. The bridges are fishing great all the way from the trailhead down to where the creek leaves the road, and the trailhead is fishing well also. The water is running a little low and could use a bump of moisture, but for the time being it’s in good shape. Fly selection hasn’t been terribly crucial, but productive patterns have been Boat Anchor Scuds, Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, any number of different jig patterns, and G-String Worms. Trail a midge or Three Dollar Dip behind if the fish get picky!
Crow and Sand Creeks have been fishing well. As usual, they’re probably your best bet for dry fly fishing. Caddis, Midges, and Blue Winged Olives are all hatching, so be prepared with imitations of all three. If there’s caddis on the water, the fish seem to have a sweet tooth for them, but it’s anybodies guess most days as to what the fish are going to decide they want. Nymphing is a good option also, with the same patterns as Spearfish and Rapid Creeks working great. As per usual with this time of year, be mindful of snakes, as there’s no shortage of them on either of these creeks.
All of the small streams in the Hills are fishing great! If you don’t mind smaller fish and like the solitude of little water, there’s a lot of options. Box Elder, Elk, Little Elk, Hanna, and Little Spearfish Creeks are just a few of the options available. Dry-Droppers are the name of the game. Keep your dry in the 14-16 range, and your dropper a size smaller and you’ll be into the fish. I love fishing small streams personally. Catching wild trout without having to resort to changing patterns every ten minutes is a nice, relaxing way to fish!
Fishing is great here in the Black Hills, folks. This summer is shaping up to be a great one! We’ve had a number of guide trips out lately, and they’ve all been having fantastic days on the water. What better way is there to see the great fly fishing the Black Hills has to offer than with one of our experienced guides? This summer is booking up, so call to get your dates reserved. If you’re more of a DIY kinda person, swing by the shop and we’ll circle a map up for you and head you in the right direction!