It’s been a cold few weeks throughout the Black Hills, but the weather today and the remainder of the week looks to be great for getting out and doing some fishing! The fishing has been solid most places, with the exception of some higher elevation stuff that’s getting icy. Spearfish Creek and Rapid Creek have been the most productive lately, but some of the smaller streams around have been seeing some good fishing as well. It’s going to be a solid week to get out on the water before winter sets in for good!
Rapid Creek above Pactola has been fishing well, but will only continue to do so until the weather cools off. Nymphing has been the best producer, with larger flies working well with a small dropper. Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Jig Soft Spots, Brush Hogs, and Jig Assassins are good lead flies in size 12-14, trailed by a smaller midge pattern of your favorite color. The fish are starting to stack up in the bigger/deeper holes, so focus more on the slower moving water as the water cools off. Streamer fishing can be productive as well, just have a reasonably slow retrieve. Kreelexes, Lil’ Kims, and Mini Dungeons should get the job done on a lighter Versileader to help get them down. Below the dam has been fishing well, but has been seeing a fair number of folks fishing many days. Nymphing is going to be your best bet if you want to go for numbers. Scud and worm patterns are going to be solid bets for your lead fly, with a BWO or midge trailer. Hunchback Scuds, Rainbow Czechs, Flashback Sowbugs, and various worm/annelid patterns in size 12-14 will get the job done for a lead fly. Any number of midge patterns will make a good trailer, as well as Split Back BWOs and Two Bit Hookers. If you’re using midges, just keep changing the color until you figure out what they like. As long as you’re heavy enough to get in front of them, just keep changing and you’ll figure them out. Streamer fishing has been good some days as well, but being versatile with your fly/sink tip is the key to success. Fishing in town has been great, with fish spread out in the shallow water and deeper stuff alike. Dry-droppers have been the technique of choice for most, because you can cover water from the riffles to the deeper holes. Hippie Stompers are the indicator fly of choice for most, in whatever color and size you dig the most. Jigs and tungsten midges are good dropper flies. Jig Assassins, Sweet Peas, Peacock Jigs, and tungsten Green Weenies will all get their share of fish. You might see the occasional fish on top, and any number of midge adults can work. Morgan’s Midges and Eric’s Midges are a couple of my favorites, but adjust accordingly.
Spearfish Creek has been fishing very well. Jigs trailed by a smaller midge dropper have been the same of the game for the most part, but you can get some fish on dry flies occasionally as well. Jig Assassins, Soft Spots, Jig PTs, Skinny Jigs, Sweet Peas, and Brush Hogs in a size 12-14 are solid bets for your first fly. I’ll oftentimes fish a size 16-18 jig as a dropper fly, but smaller midge patterns work good as well. Green Weenies, Two Bits, and whatever your favorite flavor of midge pattern is will all work well. If you’re not finding fish in Spearfish, make it deeper/heavier. When the water is as chilly as it is this time of year, you need to be within a few inches of the fish for them to show any interest. If you’re in a good spot, make sure and take the time to fish it well – I’ll spend 2-3 times as much time in a spot in the winter as I will in the summer due to water temperatures. The fish are moving slower this time of year; so should you. That being said, there’s great fishing to be had on Spearfish Creek right now!
Castle Creek below Deerfield will be fishing well, but most of the fishing will be in the first couple miles below the lake. It’s been cold up there at night, so some of the lower stretches that don’t get much sun will be on the icy side. The same flies and techniques as Rapid Creek will work just fine up there. Most of the fish are going to be in the deeper corners/holes, so don’t spend a lot of time in the really shallow stuff. The brookies up there are pretty this time of year!
Crow Creek and Sand Creek are fishing well, and will both be consistent options throughout the winter. Dry-droppers with the same patterns as Rapid Creek will work great if you don’t see any fish on the surface. There’s good BWO and midge hatches on both of these creeks right now, so I would have a good selection of adult midges and BWOs. CDC Thorax Duns, F Flies, Students, Comparaduns, and Sparkle Duns are good BWO patterns in a size 16-20. Midge-wise, we like Morgan’s Midges, Eric’s Midges, Griffith’s Gnats, as well as F Flies – which happen to be a great fly for both midges and Blue Winged Olive Hatches. Fishing is good on both of these creeks right now, especially midday.
Pike fishing has still been solid if you’re able to get down to them. Heavy sinking lines are the key this time of year – we like Type 3 or Type 6 lines, as well as the Sonar Titan Intermediate/3/5 tapered sinking line. They seem pretty willing to eat if you can get your fly drug down in front of them. I like black flies a lot, but use whatever colors you’re confident in. We’ve only got a couple weeks left of good pike fishing, so take advantage of it while you can!
Overall the fishing has been solid, so long as you’re willing to slow down a bit from the summertime pace. Give us a call at the shop, or swing by if you have any questions about where to go, how to get there, or what to throw at ’em!