Don’t let the wintry weather scare you off – the fishing is still excellent, and we didn’t get enough snow to really raise the flows much. A few places will most likely come up a bit over the weekend, but we don’t foresee anything becoming unfishable by any means. Fall is a fantastic time to be out fishing in the Black Hills!
Rapid Creek above Pactola is 107 cfs, which is about what it’s been for the past several weeks. Nymph fishing and streamer fishing are going to be your best bets. Larger nymphs will work well, as the water is still a bit stained – Jig Pheasant Tails, Red Butts, Brush Hogs, North Fork Specials, Rainbow Czechs, and Assassins are good bets in size 12-16. You can fish a bigger worm, mop fly, or Pat’s Rubber Legs for a lead fly if you’re fishing some of the deeper water where you’ll need more weight to get down. Streamer fishing is good as well, and enables you to fish a lot of the water that would be really difficult to fish with a regular nymph rig. Use a light sink tip like a 3 or 4 inch per second Versileader with a Kreelex, Grinch, Thin Mint, Home Invader, or Sculpzilla. There’s a lot of fish in little holes and edges near the bank, so don’t be afraid to fish everything.
Pactola is fishing fantastic for big rainbows, and they’re not super particular. Fish a balanced leech, Soft Spot, Hare’s Ear, or big Zebra midge under a bobber, especially if the wind is blowing. You can do well stripping Wooly Buggers and leeches as well. The biggest thing finding them, once you find the fish they aren’t that picky. Most bays and points will hold fish, as well as any obvious structure. The fish are big and willing!
Rapid Creek below Pactola is 130 cfs, and fishing well. There are tons of small fish this year, so you’ll have to weed through them to get to the nicer fish most days. That being said, it’s cool to see some small fish for a change – next year should be fantastic as long as the flows stay up through the winter. Nymph fishing will be your best bet with the higher flows. Boat Anchor Scuds, Mop Flies, Rainbow Czechs, Hunchback Scuds, and worms are good lead flies. The fish are still pretty keyed in on Blue Winged Olive nymphs, so smaller, thin patterns are best for a dropper. Zebra Midges, Split Back Baetis, T Baetis, Skinny Nelsons, and Flashback Pheasant Tails are good bets in 18-22. The nicer fish are picky, but there’s plenty of smaller fish to keep you occupied!
Rapid Creek in town is still fishing excellent, but has switched over to more nymph fishing with the cooler weather. There’s still some opportunities for terrestrials and craneflies, especially if it warms up into the 50s and 60s next week. For now, sticking to nymphs will keep your net wet. Pat’s Rubber Legs, Mop Flies, and Worms are good lead flies with the higher flows, and you’ll catch a surprising amount of fish on the big fly. You don’t need to go microscopic with your dropper by any means – we’ve been doing well with Sweet Peas, Assassins, Skinny Jigs, Optic Nerves, Peacock Jigs, and Jig Hare’s Ears in size 14-16 for your second fly. If you haven’t tried Euro Nymphing, the flows in town are perfect for it right now! It’s been our most effective technique for nymph fishing on Rapid Creek in town this year.
Spearfish Creek is fishing well, and is flowing at just under 70 cfs – perfect flow for late fall fishing! There are Blue Winged Olives hatching in the canyon and in town, and the fish are definitely up on them. Sparkle Duns, Brook’s Sprout, Purple Hazes, Parachute Adams, F Flies, and Comparaduns are good bets in size 18-22. The bugs are really small, but the fish dig them. There’s a lot of spots that you’ll run into a good numbers of fish rising, especially in the early afternoon. The easier fish are going to be in smaller pockets and riffles, and the pickier fish will be in the longer, slower runs. Find the type of water you like fishing and give it a try! Nymph fishing is good as usual, and the flies are pretty standard stuff – Slim Jims, Peacock Jigs, Skinny Jigs, Assassins, Frenchies, and jig PTs in size 14-16 will get the job done. If you run into some pickier fish, drop a midge or BWO nymph off the back to pick up a few extra fish as well.
Castle Creek below Deerfield is high at 43cfs, but you can find some fish if you’re persistent. Most of the fish you’ll catch are going to be on the inside bends in the bigger holes, which is the only place that the water is slow right now. Nymph fishing with the same flies as Spearfish Creek will work great. When the weather warms back up, you’ll probably be able to get a few fish on smaller terrestrials like Morrish Hoppers, Bloom’s Ant, and Hi Viz Beetles.
Spring Creek is fishing excellent right now, both by the road and up on the trailhead – which is now open again. Nymph fishing is hands down the best method to put up numbers of fish, but you can get a few on dries as well. The fish haven’t been particularly selective lately. Try a Pat’s Rubber Legs, Jig Hare’s Ear, Optic Nerve, Assassin, Mop Fly, or Duracell for your lead fly, trailed by your favorite flavor of Zebra Midge in 16-18. If you see some fish on the surface, they’re most likely eating Blue Winged Olives or midges. Try a Morgan’s Midge, Sparkle Dun, F Fly, or small Parachute Adams in size 16-20. The fish aren’t super picky, so mix it up a bit and see what they like on any given day.
Crow Creek and Sand Creek are pretty much the same as last week – they are both some of the better options for dry fly fishing, primarily with Blue Winged Olives. The cooler weather and snow cover should be good conditions to see some fish up on the surface. Brook’s Sprout, Sipper Midges, Sparkle Duns, Purple Hazes, Students, and F Flies are all good options. Fish a long tippet so you get some slack on the first part of your drift and don’t lead the fish by far. Nymph fishing with the the same jig flies as Spearfish will work well, with the addition of a midge dropper if the fish are picky.
Pike fishing has been good lately, and should continue to get better with the falling water temps. Pactola and Sheridan are fishing well, with slightly smaller flies than normal on a type 3 or type 5 line. Flies in the 4-6″ range have seemed to be the most productive, but don’t be afraid to mix it up. Most of the fish are in the 8-12′ range still. Focus on dropoffs and weed edges for the best success. Keyhole should be getting good any day now as well. Prairie lakes are fishing well also – Tisdale, Gardner, Bear Butte, and many others are good bets to try in the fall.
Fishing has been great, and should continue to be excellent throughout the month. Give us a call or stop by for the latest updates or hot flies!