Cold and snowy today, but the weather from tomorrow through Saturday looks fantastic! The fishing has been solid throughout the Black Hills, particularly in the lower elevations.
Rapid Creek near Silver City is getting pretty cold, but there’s still some nice fish around that are willing to eat. With the colder water temperatures, nymph fishing will be your best bet. Fairly large flies will work well with the slightly off colored water – Pat’s Rubber Legs, Purple Prince Nymphs, Jig Pheasant Tails, Jig Hare’s Ears, Mop Flies, and various other jig patterns in size 12-16 will do the trick. You can get a few fish to chase smaller streamers on some days as well – Kreelexes and Lil Kims are good bets on a 3-4 inch per second Versileader.
Rapid Creek below Pactola is fishing very well, and with the nice size structure of fish this year the next fish you hook could be 6″ or 26″ – it’s nice to see such a variety of sizes up there compared to normal. Nymph fishing with smaller droppers will keep your rod bent most of the day. For your lead fly, heavy is still good with the flows being at 75 cfs. Jig Pheasant Tails, Prince Nymphs, Boat Anchor Scud, Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Purple PTs, and Mop Flies in size 10-14 are good bets to help get your dropper down quickly. For your second fly, small is good – Flashback Pheasant Tails, Mercury Midges, Flying Zebras, Green Weenies, and Skinny Nelsons in size 18-20 are good bets. Streamer fishing can be a good bet for some of the larger fish as well, particularly if you want to not have to weed through some of the smaller ones. Threesomes, Home Invaders, Silk Kittens, and Kreelexes are good streamers. The fish are pretty spread out, so you can fish a wide variety of water and find fish. That being said, there’s a good number of spawning browns right now, so avoid the skinny water with smaller gravel and obviously spawning fish – there’s plenty of other places to find willing fish right now without harassing the spawners.
Fishing in town is excellent right now, and will continue to be one of the best options around through the winter. As with most places, nymph fishing is going to be your best bet for numbers of fish. the fish in town will eat a wide variety of flies right now, but a few favorites have been Duracells, Purple Pheasant Tails, Soft Spots, Assassins, Jig Hare’s Ears, Perdigons, and Frenchies are all gooe bets in 14-16. If you are fishing slower water or run into some pickier fish, various midge droppers will pick up some bonus fish. The flows in town are great for Euro Nymphing right now as well – if you’ve never tried it, swing by and we can get you set up. It’s arguably the most efficient way to nymph fish, and once you figure it out you’ll be amazed at how many fish you can pick up in water that you’d typically walk past. Smaller streamers can be effective this time of year as well – small Lil’ Kims, Kreelexes, Buggers, and Sculpzillas are good flies if you want to search for some of the bigger fish in town.
Spearfish Creek is fishing great in the canyon and in town. The canyon typically fishes best during the middle of the day when the temps are cooler and the sun is low, but you can find fish throughout the day. Nymph fishing is the name of the game most days, but you’ll find the occasional fish on the top eating midges or Blue Winged Olives. Students, Morgan’s Midges, and small Parachute Adams are good bets for rising fish. For nymphs, pretty standard fare has been working great. Frenchies, Perdigons, Skinny Jigs, Peacock Jigs, Duracells, Purple Princes, and Jig Pheasant Tails are good bets in size 14-16. Smaller Flying Zebras, Split Back Baetis, and various Zebra Midges are good bets for droppers in size 18-20 as well. The fish have been slowly moving into the deeper troughs and holes with the cooler water, but don’t be surprised to find some fish in shallower summer-type water as well. As with Rapid Creek, look out for the spawning browns – fish that are in the far tailout of runs and in water that seems too shallow are most likely spawning. If there’s a light colored circle of gravel, leave it alone as well – the trout will thank you!
Castle Creek below Deerfield is good in the walk in area, but there’s a fair amount of snow making it hard to get around. If you head up there, the same flies as Spearfish Creek will work great. The fishing is good, but traversing can get a little difficult. The area below Slate Prairie Road will be partially, if not mostly frozen for most of the winter.
Crow Creek and Sand Creek are fishing excellent, and will be some of the best options throughout the winter. The water stays considerably warmer than many other streams, so the fish are more active and willing to move for your flies. Nymph fishing is your best bet, but you’ll see the occasional fish on the surface eating midges as well. The fish on both of these creeks typically aren’t super selective, so a wide variety of medium-sized flies will do the trick. Soft Spots, Optic Nerves, Peacock Jigs, Duracells, Red Fox Squirrel Nymphs, and various midge patterns will keep you into the fish. Indicators are a good bet on Crow Creek, but we’ve found dry/droppers work better on Sand Creek. The water is a little shallower on Sand Creek and the fish are a bit spookier, so a stealthier approach with a dry/dropper or New Zealand Strike Indicator (great choice on Crow Creek as well) will find a few more fish typically.
Spring Creek has been one of the more popular options this year, and for good reason – there’s lots of fish, the average fish is a nice one, and they’re pretty willing most days. At the risk of sounding line a broken record, nymph fishing is going to be your best bet. Pretty similar flies to everywhere else will work great – Duracells, Purple Pheasant Tails, Optic Nerves, Assassins, and Jig Hare’s Ears are good lead flies. Flying Zebras, Green Weenies, Zebra Midges, and Skinny Nelsons are good droppers in 16-20. The fish are moving into their winter haunts, so don’t be afraid to fish some of the slower runs and pools.
Pactola is fishing great for big lake rainbows still, and will until it freezes. 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.
Pike fishing has been good, but the water is cold. Slow is the key to catching fish. Keyhole has been fishing well, but has the coldest water temps. Pactola, Sheridan, and Stockade are slightly warmer and you can fish a little faster. Heavy lines in the type 3 to type 5 range are your best bets.
Fishing has been great, and the fish are healthy going into winter thanks to the high water this year. Take advantage of the fantastic weather this week and get out on the water!