As I’m writing this, it’s cold outside. Real cold. We’re currently drinking too much coffee and mentally preparing ourselves for the madness that is our annual inventory this week. Even though it’s hovering in the single digits now, the weather is supposed to bounce up to the mid thirties and low forties later this week, making for great winter fishing opportunity!
Due to the significant increase in temperature, you should be out fishing this week. The fishing has been excellent over the past week – whether you prefer nymphing the slots, sight casting to risers, or plunking a big streamer off the far bank, there’s an opportunity for you to get fish on whichever method you choose!
Rapid Creek below Pactola has been good, and is your best bet for catching larger fish. Nymphing is the go-to tactic for most, as you can catch a good number of fish and still have a shot at a wintertime monster. This time of year I almost always fish a large, bright pattern as a lead fly. Boat Anchor Scuds, UV Czechs, G-String Worms, and real sizable hotspot jigs are all reliable producers, and are heavy enough that you usually won’t need a lot of additional weight. For a dropper fly I usually stick to something of the midge/baetis variety. T-Ready Baetis, Killer Mayfly Nymphs, Root Beer Midges, and any color combination of Zebra Midge will all work for your winter nymphing needs. Streamer fishing is a little more hit and miss, but when it’s good it’s great! Lil Kim’s, Home Invaders, Kreelexes, Sculpzillas, Sex Dungeons, and Circus Peanuts will all move their fair share of fish. Fish them on a light RIO Versileader, and don’t be afraid to change your retrieve and change your fly up. The fish in the basin seem to have their own streamer kryptonite every day, so just keep changing until you figure out what trips their trigger. Fishing in town is excellent right now. The lady and I went out the other day for a couple hours, and netted a dozen or so nice browns. The fly patterns are going to be very similar to below Pactola for the nymphing game, as well as the streamers. Keep your streamers a bit smaller if you’re fishing in town and you’ll do a bit better, however. I saw a fair number of fish rising to midges when I was out the other day. If we’d have got out around noon I have a feeling we’d have seen even more fish on top in the midday sun, so I’d be packing a few dries if you’re fishing during midday.
Spearfish Creek in town is cold, but fishing well. Nymphing is the name of the game now, and I’d definitely fish a small dropper also. I really like Jig Assassins, but your favorite flavor of jig fly or Czech nymph will make a great lead fly. Don’t be afraid to go really small on your dropper – I’d stick in the 20-22 range. WD-40s are a fly that works really consistently in Spearfish Creek for some reason, as well as any variety of Zebra midge. Focus on the slow, deep edges and you’ll find the fish stacked up!
Spring Creek is a bit icy, especially on the lower stretches, but the upper trailhead is fishing well. Jig Soft Spots, Jig PT’s, UV Czechs, and G-String worms make a great lead pattern trailed by your favorite flavor of midge. Streamer fishing is excellent as well, especially if you want to target the larger fish.
If you want to find consistent dry fly action, Crow Creek and Sand Creek are going to be worth the drive. Midges are the name of the game this time of year, with F-Flies, Smoke Jumpers, Morgan’s Midges, and Students being my favorites. Light tippet and stealthy approaches are necessary here. Don’t be afraid to drop a small tungsten nymph off your dry either – Tung Teasers and T-Ready Baetis in 18’s are solid producers for me. If the fish aren’t on top, put on the same nymphs you would use on Rapid Creek and you’ll find fish.
Overall the fishing is great, and will continue to get better and better. Stop by the shop for a cup of coffee, the latest hot flies, or for a little friendly advice – thanks for reading!