After a scary dry first part of the year, we’ve rebounded nicely in the water department! The current water conditions are actually looking really good for the rest of this year – Rapid Creek inflows into Pactola are dropping significantly each day, while the outflows are staying the same. This is good news, and at the current rate the lake is dropping about 1% each day. This means that if the flows continue to decline at the same rate going into the lake, above Pactola should be fishable within the next week. Once the lake gets to around 100% capacity, I would expect the flows to drop to a fishable level – somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 cfs. After that, Rapid Creek in town will be ready to rock in a couple days. The fishing on Rapid is going to be off the wall once the flows come down, and I believe it’s going to be the best we’ve seen it in quite some time. A few hardy folks have been fishing a bit in town even with the crazy water, and the grapevine seems to say that the fish have been exceptionally big and very healthy. Spring Creek is already fishable as well – Hans and I did a tour of the Black Hills streams, and Spring Creek is a little high but it’s fishing pretty well!
The high flows are somewhat of a double edged sword. When the creeks are way out of the banks, they’re obviously unfishable, which keeps some people at home. The upside to high water is that the entire watershed is a food factory and the fish gorge themselves the entire time the water is up. During low water the trout will get stressed and pushed into areas with large numbers of fish competing for food, and they get a little snakier and not as healthy as a normal flow fish would be. High water has the opposite effect. The fish get to spread out and have some fin room, and they put on the feedbags. Healthy trout make all of us happy, and more water spreads all the anglers out and about! High water will also keep the water cooler than it normally would be during the hot days of summer, which alleviates the problems some streams have with water temperatures getting too hot and stressing the fish out. We’ll take high water over low water any day!
I’ve already been fishing hoppers this year with pretty darn good success, which is a good indicator of how insane the terrestrial fishing is going to be as we progress through the summer. Terrestrial fishing is some of my favorite fishing of the season, and it’s going to be a great year for it if things keep going as they currently are. Hoppers, beetles, crickets, ants, and a myriad of others are going to be solid bets. When Rapid Creek comes down to a fishable level soon it will be a great option for that as well.
The water is going to come into good dry fly shape at just about the right time for some of our best late summer hatches. Trico fishing in August will be business as always, and is some of the best technical dry fly fishing of the year. We get some great BWO hatches during that timeframe as well – I had a few insane days of guiding during the Baetis hatch late last summer. Once the bugs started coming off around 10 am, we wouldn’t put on an indicator or split shot for the remainder of the day. It was spectacular fishing, and I would expect it again this year. Black Caddis have already begun on Spearfish Creek in particular, and will hopefully spread out throughout the rest of the northern hills shortly.
The fall fishing this year is going to be spectacular! Our season is going to be extended by as much as a month, which means that our late season will be the best we’ve seen in a number of years. Our September and October fishing is normally good with little pressure due to everyone focusing their attention to hunting, but this year is going to be exceptional – book one of our expert guide for the best Black Hills fly fishing experience possible!
Overall, fishing is pretty darn good right now and will continue to get nothing but better! Come on out and experience how awesome Black Hills fly fishing can be. If you have any other questions, feel free to give us a call at the shop or swing by – we’ve always got someone here to talk fishing!