Fishing the last few days has been pretty darn good, even with the rain, thunderstorms, and freak tornado. Most all of the streams are fishing well! Though a little bit on the high side, they’re clearing up fast, opening up a lot more water for us to fish. We’ve been seeing good hatches, great nymphing, and some streamer fishing as well! Throw in the warmwater aspect of things, and you have tons of options of what to do! Here’s a breakdown of conditions by watershed.
Rapid Creek throughout most of the drainage is fishing well, but Silver City above Pactola is a little on the high side still. If you’re heading up that way, I’d throw a sink tip and chuck some meat – stuff like Home Invaders and Fly Fry patterns. Below the dam the fish are picky as always, but they can be caught with a little persistence and ingenuity. San Juans, G-Strings, Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, and Scuds have been solid choices for a lead fly. Dropper-wise, patterns like Juju baetis, Two Bit Hookers, RS2s, WD-40s, Annelids, Bubble Backs, Midge larvae, and UV Midges have been getting attention. Use a bigger indicator than you normally would, set deeper than you think, with twice as much weight, and you’ll get into fish. Long, heavy rigs are the key to success below the dam right now. Learn the “Bighorn Moss Toss”, and don’t be afraid of hitting bottom and you’ll find success! There’s still some solid midge and BWO hatches as well, and the streamer fishing has turned some big fish for me lately. In town has also been fishing well, as long as you use a similar mentality of not being afraid to get down and dirty with the fish. Heavy flies are the ticket on the creek through town, and we’ve been smoking them on some of our new jig patterns. Swing by and check them out, we’ve got a box full coming in tomorrow. Also, don’t just focus on the holes in town – there’s lots and lots of fish in the fast water in between. Tenkara fishing excels with the conditions we have in town right now as well, so if that’s your gig, get out and get to work. You won’t be disappointed.
Spring Creek has been fishing pretty darn good, and the fish are fat and happy with the flows and insane numbers of bugs. These fish are pretty hole-oriented, so focus your time on the knee deep and deeper water and you’ll do much better. Some flies that have been doing well for me are Tungsten North Forks, Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Kern River Emergers, San Juans, G-Strings, and of course, jig flies. Droppers are more of a personal preference as these fish aren’t too picky, but midges, Two Bits, Hot Spot PTs, and Tung Teasers have been getting the job done. For dry fly aficionados, there’s been some great caddis hatches along with a smattering of mayflies and a few stoneflies also. Terrestrials are getting fired up here, and beetles and small ants in sizes 14-18 have been cleaning up on the fish! Many people are happy to see Spring Creek fishing well again, so go get your piece of the pie while it lasts.
High flows, but that doesn’t stop the fish from eating! Focus your efforts on the slack-er pocket water and you’ll be rewarded. Some of my favorite spots in the canyon are nearly whitewater, and I just fish behind every pocket and rock. It pays off big. The lower part of the canyon is higher since it gains several feeder creeks, so stick up to the top half of the canyon for the most part. Plenty of fish, and it’s a little easier to fish it. In town in Spearfish has been good as well, with tungsten flies and weight being the ticket to getting into fish. Don’t be afraid of hitting bottom and losing flies – if you’re not hitting bottom every few casts, you’re not deep enough. Top flies include North Fork Specials, Tung Teasers, Kern River Emergers, Juans in several flavors, UV Czechs, and again, jig flies. Droppers that work are Juju Baetis, Two Bits, Cheesman Canyons, Bubble Backs, and UV Midges.
Sand Creek and Crow Creek
Sand Creek has been fantastic, with lots of fish looking up. Caddis, Yellow Sallies, and sparse PMD hatches have been the predominant ones, and the fish are all about it. Dry-Droppers are the preferred tactic now. Dries include Elk Hair Caddis, Stimulators, Parachute Adams, and my favorite, Klinkhamers, in sizes 14-18. Dropper nymphs that have been doing work include Tung Teasers, Two Bits, Tungsten Soft Hackle PTs, Juju baetis, and Psycho Nymphs. The fish here are a bit spooky – stay back from the bank and wade lightly and you’ll reap the rewards. Crow Creek has been fishing awesome as well. It’s not usually a numbers game, but there’s some truly giant fish in Crow, especially for the size of the water. Spooky fish, but they aren’t picky as to fly patterns as long as you get it in front of them without spooking them. Nymphs that have been working include North Forks, Juans in all flavors, jig nymphs, UV Czechs, and Leech Patterns have all been getting it done. Crow has some great hatches as well, and there’s been a hodgepodge of Caddis, Yellow Sallies, and BWOs. Match these bugs accordingly, and you’ll do well.
Custer State Park
Grace Coolidge has been silly good. If you’re looking to learn how to flyfish, or you’re introducing someone to the sport, this is a great option to hit up. The grapevine says that French Creek has been good by the horse camp also. General nymph patterns will treat you well here – stuff like Hare’s Ears, Pheasant Tails, Prince Nymphs, Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, and North Fork Specials. Wooly Buggers and Sculpzillas in the larger pools can get you a few bonus fish also. All the lakes in this neck of the woods are good right now too – Sylvan, Center, Horsethief, and Bismarck are all putting out good numbers of fish.
Box Elder Creek
High water still, but from Nemo upstream you should be good, unless we get more substantial rain. Dry-droppers are always a good bet for the brookies in here, and they’ve also been eating larger dries such as Humpies, Chernobyls, Stimulators, and Klinkhammers, which makes for some fun fishing!
Good fishing has continued at Castle and Ditch Creeks. The suckers are running out of the lake into the stream to spawn, and the rainbows and splake are following them out and eating their eggs. Egg patterns, Juans, Czechs, and Kern River Emergers have been getting it done up top. Below the dam has been seeing some pretty darn good dry fly fishing, with caddis being the predominant hatch. Elk Hair Caddis or a small Stimulator for a top fly, and a Psycho, Copper John, or Tung Teaser for a dropper is money below the dam.
This is my favorite time of year to fish Carp, Smallies, and Pike. Pierre has been great, and will only continue to get better throughout the month of June. White bass are schooling up at Farm Island and behind the hospital, and should continue to work their way upstream to the dam. Bully Buggers, Clousers, Murdich Minnows, Crazi Craws, and Flash Minnows will get attention all throughout the day. Smallies should start any day now, with the same patterns doing well for them. Pactola is still seeing a few active Pike around, but it’s largely weather dependent. Stable weather really helps out the northern activity, so go after a few days of similar weather. Streamers like Pike Strippers, Barry’s Pike Fly, Murdich Minnows, Umpqua Swimming Baitfish, and Pike Snakes will get some attention up there. You put in your time for each fish, but you have a legitimate shot at a 20 plus pound Pike – worth putting in some time for it. Explosive takes and sight fishing is what makes Pike fishing with a fly rod so exciting and addicting. Swing by the shop and we can draw you up a map and show you some places to go both at Pactola, and the Missouri River.
That’s a wrap! As always, thanks for reading. We strive to be your first choice for Black Hills fly fishing gear and reports, and we appreciate you taking the time to read this. If you have any questions, feel free to stop by the shop and get a cup of coffee and chat about where to go, or give a shout at 605-341-2450 and we can get you squared away. Email works too. Thanks again,