We’ve had quite the rollercoaster of weather over the past few weeks, from -20 to the mid 50’s – welcome to South Dakota in the winter! The fishing has been pretty solid on the days where the weather has been cooperating, with some decent dry fly action some days as well. The coming week looks to have some good weather for getting out on the water!
Rapid Creek in town is one of the best options for wintertime fishing in the Black Hills. The fishing has been good to great depending on the day. If you hit the right day, there’s good numbers of fish up on midges in the skinnier water. If you run across rising fish various patterns have been working well, including Morgan’s Midges, Eric’s Midges, F Flies, Students, and small parachute patterns in size 18-22. Make sure you’re using 6x at the heaviest, and fish a long tippet. The fish in the skinny water can be pretty particular about presentation, but they’re usually not terribly particular about fly patterns. Keep your eyes peeled for rising fish – the rises can be really subtle this time of year. Nymphing has been solid, mostly with various midge droppers. Use a tungsten fly in a size 14-16 as weight to help get you down, and whatever your favorite flavor of midge is in a size 18-22 on 6x as a dropper and you’ll find the fish. Bling midges have been a great fly. Make sure you’re right in their face, the water is cold this time of year!
Spearfish Creek in town has been fishing good, but the northern stretches have a lot of shelf ice on the bank. The fish are mostly in the deeper holes and tailouts of the deeper slots, so focus your efforts there for the most part rather than in the faster, summertime type water. The same flies as Rapid Creek will work just fine, with the addition of small BWO patterns like Two Bit Hookers, Split Case BWO’s, and the good ol’ Pheasant Tail in size 18-20. There’s a lot of fish around, but if you find a good spot make sure and take your time and fine tune your depth and weight to make sure you’re getting down to them. You’ll do much better if you take your time when the water is in the mid 30’s!
Crow Creek and Sand Creek are the two warmest creeks around this time of year, and are going to be the two that fish most like spring or fall. There’s good BWO and midge hatches many days on both of these creeks, and the fish like eating off the surface on Crow and Sand Creeks. If you see fish rising, try a Sipper Midge, Student, F Fly, Purple Haze, Parachute Adams, CDC Thorax Dun, or Eric’s Midge in size 16-20. If the fish are picky, you can drop a smaller midge pattern a foot off the back and pick up some bonus fish. If you want to nymph, use some sort of weighted scud pattern like a Boat Anchor or Hunchback Scud for your lead fly, trailed by a Zebra Midge, Two Bit Hooker, or Pheasant Tail in 16-20. The fish seem to like bigger scud patterns on both of these creeks, so I would definitely have that on as a lead fly. That being said, some of the best dry fly fishing of the year is on Crow and Sand Creeks, so I would come prepared with a good selection of dries. They’ll often even eat bigger dries like Klinkhamers and Hippie Stompers, so don’t be afraid to change it up a little bit!
Overall fishing has been good for wintertime, especially considering the subzero temps we had for quite awhile in December. If you’re headed out, swing by the shop or give us a call for the latest intel and the hot flies!