Fishing is still solid throughout the Black Hills, but some of the higher elevation streams will start to get some ice in the next week or so. We have a bit of a weather rollercoaster over the next few days, but it looks overall to be great weather to get out and chase some Black Hills fish!
Rapid Creek above Pactola is going to be mostly a nymph game due to colder water temps – the canyon is pretty tall in most places, and the creek doesn’t get a lot of sunlight in the winter months. Larger nymphs are good bets, as the water isn’t super clear. North Fork Specials, Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Tung Teasers, Jig Hare’s Ears, and Jig Prince Nymphs are good bets in size 12-14. If the fish are picky, you can drop a small midge pattern or size 16 jig fly below as a dropper and do well. Typically you can do just fine on the larger flies, however. The fish will be transitioning into the slower, deeper water as the water temps cool as well.
Below Pactola is fishing well and is at a good flow for this late in the year. Nymphing will be the most productive method, but there’s some opportunities for dry fly fishing some days as well. As far as nymphing goes, it’s pretty standard stuff that’s working well. Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Boat Anchor Scuds, and Hunchback Scuds are good lead patterns. Drop a small trailer fly behind – you’ll pick the majority of your fish up on smaller dropper flies. Bling Midges, Zebra Midges in various colors, Two Bit Hookers, Annelids, Green Weenies, WD-40s, and RS2s in size 18-24 will work well. Don’t be afraid to change your flies and you’ll eventually figure out what the fish want. There’s a few midges hatching in the afternoons on warmer days. Try a Morgan’s Midge, F Fly, Eric’s Midge, or Griffith’s Gnat in size 18-22 if you see some fish on the surface.The fish are picky, but they’re nice if you put some work in. Be mindful of spawning browns – they’re the future of the fishery, and it’s not worth monkeying around with them to get a hero shot. There’s lots of fish in the deeper runs and slots that aren’t spawning and are more than willing to eat!
Rapid Creek in town is fishing fantastic. You can fish a dry-dropper in most places with the current flows, but if you’re in the deeper water you might have to put on a heavier lead fly and an indicator. If you’re fishing a dry-dropper, various dry flies are good. Easy to see flies work well, and you’ll get the occasional fish on them as well. Hippie Stompers, Klinkhamers, Fuzzy Wuzzys, and big Parachute Adams are good lead flies. Various droppers will work well – Tungsten Midges, Skinny Jigs, Optic Nerves, small worm patterns, Jig Hare’s Ears, and Jig Pheasant Tails in size 16-18 are good dropper patterns. If you’re nymphing, just put the same dropper flies below a larger size 14 jig fly to help get down to the bottom. As with the basin, there’s a good number of fish spawning in town right now so be mindful of where you’re walking and fishing at.
Spearfish Creek is fishing great both in the canyon and in town. As with most other places, nymph fishing is going to be the most productive way to fish. You can get some fish on dries in the right types of water, but you’ll catch significantly more fish with a nymph rig. Skinny Jigs, Slim Jims, Assassins, Optic Nerves, North Fork Specials, Tungsten Midges, Green Weenies, Frenchies, and Two Bit Hookers are good flies. I typically fish a 14 as a lead fly and a 16-18 as a dropper. If you’re not fishing the super slow water, you shouldn’t have to go much smaller than a size 18. We catch a good number of fish on 10-14 size flies throughout the year. Spearfish Creek is fishing exceptionally well right now, and the canyon should be fishable until we start to get (hopefully) some real amounts of snow.
Castle Creek below the dam is fishing well for the first couple miles, the rest will be pretty cold/icy. Nymph rigs with a larger jig fly trailed by a midge or small BWO pattern will pick up some fish.
Crow Creek and Sand Creek are essentially the same story as the last few weeks. If you see fish on top, fish a dry. If not, fish nymphs. The fish on the surface will be eating BWOs and Midges, so good flies include F Flies, Sparkle Duns, Morgan’s Midges, Eric’s Midges, and Sipper Midges in size 16-20. Long tippets and long-ish leaders in the 9-10 foot range will up your odds on both Sand and Crow. If there’s not much on the surface, nymph fishing is always pretty solid. Tung Teasers, Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Frenchies, Jig Soft Spots, Assassins, Slim Jims, and various other nymphs in 14-18 will work well. Get it in front of the fish without spooking them and you stand a solid chance of hooking them on a wide variety of flies.
Easy fishing on both Pactola and Deerfield for big rainbows. You can strip smaller leeches and wooly bugger type patterns and do well, as well as fish larger nymphs under an indicator if. If the wind is blowing and moves your bobber around, even better. Lots of big, easy fish to be had throughout both of these lakes!
Pike fishing has been great, and should continue to be until the lakes freeze up. Lots of nice fish have been caught recently, mostly with medium 5-7″ flies and heavy sinking lines like the Sonar Int/3/5 and Rio Big Nasty Sink tips. If you’re not getting your fly in front of the fish, they’re not going to eat it – easy enough right? The fish have been really aggressive if you can get your flies down 6-10 feet and keep them there!
Great fishing throughout the Black Hills lately! As usual, swing by the shop or give us a call with any questions!