After receiving some much needed moisture and some wintery weather this past weekend, Black Hills streams are coming into great shape! The flows are coming up, the bugs are hatching, and the fish have been eating. Stoneflies and Blue Winged Olives are the predominant hatches, and the nymphing has been pretty great everywhere. Streamer fishing has been good too, especially when the water comes up and gets a little dingy. Warmwater fishing continues to be another fun option – Smallies, White Bass, and Pike are getting fired up just about everywhere.
Rapid Creek is, as always, a great choice. As I’m writing this, the water flows below Pactola .just got bumped up to 80 cfs from 40 cfs, which is awesome. We enjoyed lots of water last year, and this last storm we got definitely rejuvenated some of the streams. The flows right now are just about perfect. The dry fly fishing was good at 40 cfs a couple days ago, but now that the water has doubled the fishing will be that much better. Nymphing will be a great option as always, but stick with a smaller BWO nymph as your dropper – something like a T Ready, Split Back, or Juju Baetis in size 20-24. The dry fly fishing has been darn good below the dam, with Stoneflies and BWO’s being the predominant hatches. Comparaduns, F-Flies, Hackle Stackers, and Students in a 16-22 depending on the day have been my best producers. Put a foot of 6x fluoro below your dry and stick on a small dropper for best results. Silver City has been fishing alright, but nothing crazy. It’s a little off color right now from the rain and snow over the weekend. I’d look for it to get better within the next two weeks. Rapid Creek through town has been fishing good as well, and will significantly improve over the next day or two when the higher flows reach us. The Canyon Lake dam project is complete, so the water has cleared up and will hopefully stay that way throughout the summer. BWO’s are hatching, and the same flies and rigs as you’d use in the basin will produce well in town. For nymphing, the standard fare should do the trick. Jigs in a myriad of colors and patterns are always my go-to, as well as UV Czechs and North Fork Specials. If you want to get extra dirty on them, tungsten worms are always a good idea.
Spearfish Canyon has been doing great, especially if you’re into Czech Nymphing or Tenkara. I’ve been fishing up there quite a bit lately using Czech-style techniques, and I’ve been having great luck. The flies I’ve been doing best with have been jigs in larger sizes, especially Hans’s Party Crasher in size 12. A small baetis dropper such as a Killer Mayfly or Split Back have been picking up some bonus fish for me as well. Don’t be afraid of the fast water, especially in the catch and release area. Most of my big fish have come out of the little calm slot next to some of the fastest water in the canyon. The key in the canyon is to get close to the fish – most of the time I don’t have any fly line on the water at all, just a few feet out of the end of my rod tip. Czech out our Spearfish Canyon video for some inspiration.
Castle Creek has been good as well. Above the lake, the suckers are running out of Deerfield to spawn, and the trout are following them out. Rainbows, Splake, and brookies are all there, and the fishing can be borderline ridiculous at times. UV Czechs and jig PT’s were my best flies there a couple days ago. Below Deerfield in the Kinney Canyon walk-in the fishing has been great as well, and the BWO’s have been hatching along with sporadic appearances of little black stoneflies. For nymphing, small UV Czechs, Kern River Emergers, Tungteasers, and Psycho nymphs should do the trick.
The Pike fishing in area lakes has us all hot and bothered – it’s been great. We’ve been spending most of our time on Pactola, but Tisdale, Waggoner, Owens, and a number of other lakes have all had good pike fishing over the past couple weeks. Come down and we can give you some intel on flies and a few areas to check out. If you haven’t fished pike before, you have to do it. It’s some of the most exciting fishing of the year!
The Missouri River is just getting fired up as we speak, and the fishing will get nothing but better as the water warms over the next few months. White Bass, Smallmouth, Pike, Walleyes, and a number of other species have all been moving into the shallows as the water warms, making them readily available to fly anglers targeting them. Oahe has been the best bet for big pike, and Lake Sharpe has been the best for everything else. Rabbit Strip Clousers, Rubber legged jigs, Ehler’s Crazi Craw, and Murdich Minnows have been a good all-around bet. Swing by and we can show you some of our favorite spots on the Missouri!
Overall, the fishing in the Hills has been good to great lately, and should continue to get nothing but better. We have guides available to show you around the area, as well as knowledgable staff at the shop to point you in the right direction to have a good trip! Swing by the shop and we can get you squared away. Feel free to email or call the shop if you have any other questions about a certain stream or watershed. Thanks for reading!