There’s been no shortage of great fishing opportunities throughout the Black Hills lately. From brookies to pike, we’ve had some fantastic fall fishing over the past week, and the folks that have been in the shop have all been having good things to say as well. The weather and water flows are great for this late in the year as well!
Rapid Creek above Pactola is around 60 cfs, which is a fantastic flow for this late in the year. It’s mostly a nymphing game, but you can do well on streamers as well. The water is a little off color still, but not blown out by any means. Because of that, larger flies have been better than smaller ones. North Fork Specials, Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Soft Spots, Jig Hare’s Ears, Rainbow Warriors, and various tungsten worm patterns are all good bets in size 10-16. Most of the fish are in the deeper slots and edges of fast water, but the holes will hold fish as well. If you’re streamer fishing, a lighter sink tip will help keep your flies down where the fish are as well. A 7 foot Rio Versileader in 3-5 ips will be a good bet. A lot of different flies can work, but keep them pretty reasonably sized. 2-4″ stuff will be the best bet. Lil Kims, Mini Dungeons, Home Invaders, Thin Mints, Sculpzillas, and various bugger style patterns will work well.
Rapid Creek below Pactola has been good, but the fish have been picky. Small flies will be your best bet. Use a heavy tungsten fly like a Boat Anchor Scud or Tungsten Rainbow Czech for your weight fly, and trail a small midge or BWO nymph below. Two Bit Hookers, Skinny Nelsons, Bling Midges, Zebra Midges, annelids, and various other smaller, skinny flies will get some looks. You’ll likely need to fish at least 6x to your dropper fly – the fish are picky, and you’ll need to change flies often to figure out what the fish want. If you want some shots at a big fish or two, Rapid Creek below Pactola is a good bet, but you’re not going to go there and catch a bunch of fish. There’s some limited dry fly activity as well, but it’s sporadic usually. Small midge and BWO dries in 18-24 will be your best bet for fish on the surface.
Rapid Creek in town has been fishing great, mostly with nymphs but there’s been some good dry fly fishing some days as well. If you don’t see fish on the surface, your standard two nymph rig will work great. For the lead fly, medium-sized tungsten jig flies have been our go-to patterns lately. Good flies include Brush Hogs, Slim Jims, Skinny Jigs, Assassins, Jig Pheasant Tails, and Peacock Jigs in size 12-14. For the dropper, good flies include Skinny Jigs, Zebra Midges, Two Bit Hookers, Bling Midges, and Skinny Nelsons in size 16-20. Most days the fish aren’t super particular, so you don’t have to fish really small flies most of the time. If you’re fishing in the riffles and shallower water, the same dropper flies you would fish on your nymph rigs will work well as a dropper below a Klinkhamer, Purple Haze, or Hippie Stomper. If you find some fish rising to Blue Winged Olives, you can fish a Sparkle Dun, Purple Haze, Parachute Adams, F Fly, or Student in size 16-20 and do well. The fishing on Rapid Creek in town has been one of the better bets around lately!
Spearfish Creek has been fishing great, both in the canyon and in town. Nymph fishing has been the name of the game most days, and it’s been consistently solid most days. Various Jig patterns have been good flies – Slim Jims, Peacock Jigs, Slim Jims, Optic Nerves, and Duracell Jigs are good flies in size 12-16, depending on the depth of water you’re fishing. The deeper/faster water you can get away with a larger fly, and in the slower and shallower water you should use a little smaller fly. You can do well fishing with a single jig fly, but if the fish are a little pickier you can use a smaller dropper fly. Various midge patterns and small jig flies in 16-18 are good bets if the fish are a little pickier. There’s still a lot of fish in the riffles and choppier water, but as the temps get cooler the fish will start to migrate into the deeper, slower spots.
Castle Creek has been fishing good, mostly in the afternoons when the temps warm up a bit. Klinkhamers and Purple Hazes trailed by a Tung Teaser, Psycho, Skinny Jig, or Jig Pheasant Tail are good flies. The fish aren’t super picky, but they can be a little on the spooky side. Corners and faster water are where you’ll find most of the willing fish, in the calmer water they can be hard to get a fly in front of without spooking them.
Here’s a shameless cut and paste from last week, but it’s still great fishing on both Deerfield and Pactola! There’s great lake fishing to be had for big, easy rainbows right now on both Deerfield and Pactola. Fish either a smaller bugger-sized streamer on a floating or intermediate line, or a leech and a scud below an indicator. The fish are big, willing, and fun to catch. If you want easy fishing for 14-20″ fish, Pactola and Deerfield are where you want to be. Try and avoid the obvious areas where most folks would fish – docks, boat launches, etc. – and you’ll find fish that are much more willing as well.
Crow Creek and Sand Creek are fishing great, and have some of the warmest water temperatures in the Black Hills right now. Nymph fishing has been solid now that the weeds are down a bit. Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Tung Teasers, Psychos, Optic Nerves, Brush Hogs, and various other jig patterns in 14-16 will be good bets. The fish aren’t super picky usually, so if you get the fly in front of them without spooking them you’ll do well. There can be some fish on Blue Winged Olives some days as well – the same flies as Rapid Creek will work great.
Pike fishing has been awesome lately, and should continue to be fantastic until the lakes ice up. Type 3 and Int/3/5 lines have been key to our success pike fishing over the past couple weeks – keeping your fly in front of the fish is key. Erratic retrieves will get more looks than slow, smooth ones as well. Fly color and size has run across the board, just fish something you’re confident in and don’t be afraid to keep changing if it doesn’t work. If you’re getting your fly in front of fish, you’ll be getting some looks at least. Weededges and structure will hold more fish than structureless flats as well. Get out and give it a try before winter sets in – this is our favorite time of year to be out chasing pike!
Fishing has been solid throughout the Hills. Swing by the shop for fly suggestions and where to go!