The weather in the Black Hills lately has been exceptionally wet, which is a big change from the near-drought pattern we were in before May rolled around. Almost all of the creeks are significantly higher than they normally would be, but many of them are still fishable, with the exception of Rapid Creek. Bigger, heavier flies are going to be your friend during these high flows, as well as streamers. We’ve been running quite a few guide trips lately, and they’ve all been having excellent results! The high water scares a lot of people and keeps them off the water, but the fish are still feeding away and having a merry old time.
Rapid Creek is currently at 672 cfs at Silver City, 572 below Pactola, and a whopping 737 in town. It’s currently more or less unfishable. If you’re dead set on fishing Rapid, the first mile below the dam is going to be your only bet. I would give it a rest until it comes down below 300 cfs and focus on our other streams instead. There’s a silver lining to the crazy high water though – the fish will be super healthy and fat once the water recedes, and the fishing will be great!
Castle Creek above Deerfield is flowing at 39 cfs, and below the dam is 69 cfs. Is this higher than normal? Yes. Is the fishing still good? Absolutely. I like fishing higher water better then low water any day, and it makes the fish significantly less selective. The rainbows and splake are running out out the lake into Castle and Ditch Creeks, and the fishing is pretty darn good. The beaver dams on upper Castle upstream of the fork are fishing great as well. Below Deerfield is fishing great as well, even with the flows being double what they normally would be. The fish are much more spread out, not just in the holes like they normally would be. The meadow stretch by the parking lot all the way up to the dam is fishing great. Standard Black Hills stuff is working well – UV Czechs, Psycho Nymphs, Jig PT’s and Jig flies of many flavors, Tung Teasers, and Kern River Emergers will get the job done.
Spearfish Creek is flowing at a reasonable flow – 238 cfs in Spearfish and 59 in the upper canyon. Your best bet to find clearer water and easier places to fish is from Savoy upstream. Below that is fishable, but bring your heavy flies and your best Czech nymphing game. Big flies are the key in the lower canyon right now – size 8-12 worms, North Fork Specials, Jigs, and UV Czechs are going to be big enough to attract some fish. From Savoy upstream, standard fare is working great. Use a size 14-16 jig lead fly with a smaller Two Bit Hooker or Split Back Baetis below for best results. Spearfish Canyon is one of your best options right now, and the fishing has been surprisingly good. There has also been thick hatches of little black stoneflies, and there has been an incredible number of fish up on them in the slower stretches, even with the dirtier water. We’ve been running quite a few trips out of the canyon, and they’ve all been coming back with good success!
Sand Creek/Crow Creek
Crow Creek is on the upper end of normal flows, and it’s a bit off color. That being said, it will still fish well! Bigger nymphs will find plenty of fish, as well as streamers. This is one of the best times to fish Crow because the fish aren’t hyper-spooky like they normally would be in super clear water. Sand Creek is the clearest creek in the Black Hills right now, and is one of your best bets for dry fly fishing. I would use something like a Klinkhammer as a lead fly, and then drop a Tung Teaser or Psycho nymph in size 18 below.
400 cfs. If you’re familiar with Spring Creek, you’ll know this means that it’s way, way out of it’s banks. I’d fish elsewhere until it comes down a bit.
If you’re into lake fishing, this is a good time to get your favorite watercraft out and have at it. Sylvan and Center lakes are fishing great right now, and the numbers of fish you can catch is a little mind-boggling at times. A bead head Mini Leech will catch plenty of fish. If they get slightly picky, try using larger nymphs and either stripping them or dropping them under an indicator. Size 10-12 Prince Nymphs, Red Fox Squirrels, Pheasant Tails, or Zug bugs are a solid bet. Pike fishing on Pactola is still really good as well, but unless you launch your boat in Jenny Gulch, the boat launches are closed until the lake recedes.
We’ve been having a much needed wet month, and we’re not complaining about that. There’s a few places that aren’t fishable, but there’s many more that are fishing great. All the guided trips we’ve been running have been coming back with great reports and happy clients. If you aren’t comfortable fishing high water, treat yourself and hire one of our guides to show you some tricks. It’s worth every penny, we promise. If you have any more questions about fishing in the Black Hills, feel free to give us a call or shoot us an email. Thanks!