Cool, damp, and snowy weather is on tap for the coming week it looks like, which will mean there’s lots of water to explore and have to yourself! Fishing has been good to great depending on where you’re at and what techniques you like, but there’s really no bad choices right now. Small streams, bigger water, dries, streamers, nymphs, pike – whatever you like doing, there’s a good opportunity for it in the Black Hills right now!
Rapid Creek above the lake is a bit off color from the recent rain, but will fish great with nymphs and streamers. The fish up there seem to like slightly larger flies, so don’t be afraid to throw a size 12-14 nymph at them. Good choices include Brush Hogs, Optic Nerves, Tungsten Worms, Rainbow Czechs, Hare’s Ears, Skinny Jigs, and various other jig flies in 12-16. Fish a 12-14 as your lead fly, and drop a 14-16 below as a dropper. The fish are pretty willing, so if you’re not catching them you’re not getting the fly in front of them. There’s lots of fish in the deep holes, but don’t be afraid to try some of the skinnier riffles and edges as well.
Rapid Creek below Pactola is fishing well, primarily with nymphs and dries. There’s been good BWO and PMD hatches on calm days, and the fish have really been up on them. Sparkle Duns, Comparaduns, Hackle Stackers, F Flies, Students, and various other small, sparse dry flies have been working well in size 16-22. The PMDs are a 16-18 typically, but the BWO’s are a slim 20-22. If you’re lucky, the fish are on the PMDs – they’re significantly less picky on the bigger flies. Don’t be afraid to try a small terrestrial as well. If there’s no fish on the surface, the same old nymph rig has been working just fine. For the lead fly, fish a big scud or worm pattern that has enough weight to get down without much additional weight on the leader. For the trailing fly, small Split Back BWOs and PMDs, Two Bit Hookers, Pheasant Tails, Skinny Nelsons, and midges are good bets in size 16-22. If you want to surprise yourself with how picky they can be, try using a small New Zealand Strike Indicator rather than a bobber – it’s surprising how the fish will shy away from a bobber in the slower pools and runs. Fishing has been good in the catch and release area and below.
Rapid Creek in town is fishing good, primarily with nymphs. In the shallower water you can fish a single tungsten nymph below a dry fly, but in the deeper water try a tungsten nymph with a small midge pattern as a dropper. Skinny Jigs, Psychos, Tung Teasers, Slim Jims, and jig Copper Johns are good bets in size 14-16. If you want to fish a dry/dropper, try a small hopper or Hippie Stomper as your dry fly. There’s been a few Trico duns around over the past week as well, but the cooler weather might shut them down a bit.
Spearfish Creek is fishing excellent, both in the canyon and in town. There’s been some good dry fly opportunties in the early afternoon, mostly with small Blue Winged Olive Patterns. Students, Smoke Jumpers, F Flies, Sparkle Duns, and various small parachute type patterns are all good bets in size 16-22. The fish in the faster water will eat much larger flies than the fish in the slower runs, so if you like less picky fish and larger flies look for some choppier water. You can do very well fishing a small mayfly nymph dropper below the dry as well, and probably catch a lot of bonus fish. Try a Two Bit Hooker or Split Back BWO as a dropper a couple feet below your dry. If you don’t see much on the surface, the nymph fishing has been fantastic. The standard jig and a midge rig has been getting it done for us. Try a Slim Jim, Sweet Pea, Partly Crasher, Jig Hare’s Ear, or Peacock Jig for your lead fly in size 12-16. Drop whatever your favorite color of tungsten midge is below it and you should have no problems catching fish. There’s a lot of fish in the fast water still, so don’t just limit yourself to the big, obvious spots.
Castle Creek near Deerfield is still fishing well, with a good Blue Winged Olive hatch below the dam. Use the same flies as Spearfish and Rapid Creek if you run into fish eating BWOs. If not, use a Hippie Stomper, Klinkhamer, or Stimulator trailed by a small tungsten jig, Psycho Nymph, Tung Teaser, or small Tungsten Midge pattern. Mid-morning through afternoon will fish the best from here forward with the cooler mornings.
Crow Creek and Sand Creek are still fishing great, with both dries and nymphs working well. The weeds are down quite a bit, so nymphing is a good option again. If you see fish on the surface, the same Blue Winged Olive patterns as Spearfish will work great in sizes 16-20. The fish are a little less picky and a little more spooky, so focus more on your approach than your fly pattern. The nymph fishing has been good with pretty generic attractor flies. Soft Spots, Yellow Spots, Pheasant Tails, North Fork Specials, Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, and Slim Jims are all good flies in 12-16. If the fish get picky put a midge dropper on.
Pike fishing has been solid over the last week! Jake has had a couple great days pike fishing, and the cooler weather should make it even better. Pactola, Sheridan, and Stockade all both good options, as well as various lakes on the prairie. The key to being consistently successful on Pike is having the right sinking line to get your flies to them and keep them there. On any given day, we might change densities of sinking line several times depending on where the fish are holding in the water column. If your flies aren’t in front of them, they can’t eat them! Most of the fish now are in 5-10 feet of water, so we’ve been using a type 3 or Intermediate/3/5 line to keep our flies down. Various flies have been working well, mostly mid sized stuff in the 6″ range or so. Don’t be afraid to change colors.
We’re going to be having a huge fall sale this weekend at the shop as well, and it’s one you won’t want to miss out on. We’re going to have great deals on various rods, waders, reels, tying materials, lines, and many other items. Don’t miss this Saturday at the shop!
Fishing has been excellent just about everywhere, so get out this weekend and take advantage of it! Give us a call at the shop or stop by for the latest gear, flies, intel, or if you’d like to book one of our guides for a day on the water.