The trouts are frisky right now in the Black Hills, folks. Fishing continues to be good, with nymphing and streamer fishing producing good numbers of fish, and there are some more limited dry fly opportunities if that’s your thing! Fall is many of the local’s favorite time to fish – almost no competition, and plenty of eager fish. Here’s a short breakdown of conditions by watershed –
Rapid Creek – Flows on Rapid Creek have been reduced drastically from 240 cfs out of Pactola Reservoir to 20 cfs to do the dam repair on Canyon Lake. Don’t expect this to change anytime in the near future. However, the fishing is still really good, you just have to change your tactics. In town the fish are still more than eager to eat fairly large flies – I went out for an hour or so in town a couple days ago and caught 8 or 10 pretty easily on size 14 jig flies. The fish are mostly pushed into the holes and runs right now that provide a little deeper water for them. Flies like Jig PT’s, Jig Princes, UV Czechs and a variety of smaller midge droppers will get the job done. Don’t overlook smaller streamers as well – white Sculpzillas and Vanilla Buggers have been swinging up some fish also. Below Pactola is fishing pretty well also, but with typical low water snooty fish. For nymphs, stick with smaller size 18-22 baetis and midge patterns behind a larger tungsten nymph. There are also some scattered BWO’s on the surface at times, so keep your eyes out for those. Stealth is your biggest friend below the dam right now. The fish might not be spooking, but if you approach them carelessly they often will just stop feeding.
Spearfish Creek – Spearfish Creek is fishing well throughout it’s entirety right now – in the canyon as well as through town. There are a lot of fish in the shallow, fast riffles right now, so don’t overlook that. Some of my better flies have been Jig Princes, Jig PT’s, Jig Soft Spots, North Fork Specials, and Gabriel’s Trumpets in sizes 12-16. The flows are still above average for this time of year, so there’s still plenty of places for the fish to be holding, so don’t walk past much. Fishing everything will increase the number of fish you catch significantly. Savoy Pond and Yates Ponds have both been seeing good numbers of fishing rising to BWO’s during the middle of the day also, so don’t overlook those. If the larger flies aren’t working for you, put on a smaller midge or baetis dropper to pick up some bonus fish.
Castle/Ditch Creek – Castle Creek below the dam has been fishing typically well for this time of year, and the brookies are turning to their fall spawning colors. A variety of techniques have been producing below the dam – dries and nymphs primarily, but a few fish are willing to chase some streamers around. The Blue Winged Olive hatch has been good, and the fish are definitely looking up. A Low Water Baetis or small Comparadun with a Tung Teaser or Split Back Baetis dropper will pick up plenty of fish. If you’re going deeper, try size 14-18 Uv Czechs, Soft Spots, Jig Princes, and Tung Teasers. Above Deerfield, the same flies and techniques apply. No shortage of fish above the lake by any means, and lots of wild rainbows, which is nice to see!
Sand Creek – Sand Creek continues to fish well, just as it has all year. The weeds are receding a little bit, which is making the fishing a little bit easier. Terrestrials are still producing well, with ants and beetles being the most predominant. Try a Beetle with a Tung Teaser or jig PT dropper. Also, there are some BWO’s hatching here as well, so have a few of those in your box also.