The flows are mighty high, but the fishing is still darn good. Rapid Creek is at 350 cfs, which is about triple normal summer flows. This is really intimidating to a lot of people, and it makes the fish a little harder to get to in some places. The flip side of the high water is that it makes the fish considerably less picky – trout that are normally eating 22’s won’t think twice about eating a size 12. Fish that were skeptical about 6x will smash flies on 4x without a thought. The current flows require using lots of weight, bigger flies, and a little larger indicator, especially on Rapid Creek. Spearfish and Castle are still considerably higher than they normally would be, but not the same magnitude that Rapid is. The flows make the fish fat and happy, so it’s a win/win all around. I’d look for Rapid Creek to stay pretty darn high for the next couple weeks before it comes down to reasonable flows. Castle and Spearfish should come down a little sooner than that, along with most of the other local streams. This is all dependent on how much moisture we get, however. The forecast is looking pretty wet over the next week.
My best technique since the water has risen has been a Bighorn/North Platte style rig – a 3/4″ bobber, a 9′ or a little longer leader with 4x tippet. I’ve been using a big UV Czech, Tungsten Juan, or a large Jig of different flavors for my lead fly, and a good majority of the fish I’ve been picking up have been on the first fly. If you feel so inclined to use a dropper, stuff like a Split Back Baetis, Flashback PT, Juju Baetis, Pinkie Midge, or a large midge in sizes 16-20 on 5x have been picking up a few fish as well. A couple split shot a foot or so up your leader give you the full enchilada. Fishing two flies is the hip thing to do, so I’d recommend it!
Streamer Shaun has been doing extremely well with the meatier offerings, so don’t overlook that either. I’m pretty convinced that the particular streamer pattern doesn’t matter, but size and color do. The articulated varieties have been the most effective lately, but big single-hooked flies have been producing as well. Dungeons, Home Invaders, Sculpzillas, and Lil’ Kim’s have been some of the best ones lately, but a myriad of other patterns will work as well. Sink tips are going to be your friend with the high water right now, and we think the RIO Versileaders are real groovy. You loop them on just like a regular leader, and add a foot of tippet or so to the end of them. Turns your regular floating line into a sink tip – Voila! Heavy tippet is also your friend. We aren’t fishing anything lighter than 10 pound Maxima, and a lot of guys are fishing 15. Tie your flies on with a no-slip loop knot and the trouts won’t care what size your tippet is. This is definitely streamer season with the water, so get out there and give it a shot and get your biggest fish of the year!
Fishing has been good, you just have to be willing to adapt to the ever-changing conditions. Swing by the shop and we can show you where to go, get you set up with a few flies, and get you out there catching fish. As always, feel free to swing by the shop, give us a call, or shoot us an email if you have any other questions!