We’ve been on a bit of a weather roller coaster recently, but on the days where it’s been warm enough to convince yourself to get out on the water the fishing has been solid. We’ve mostly been fishing Rapid Creek in town, Spearfish Creek in town, and Sand and Crow Creeks. There’s some other options, but these 4 have had the best flows, least ice, and fish that are reasonably willing most days!
Rapid Creek below Pactola is pretty darn low right now, and a lot of the fish are stacked up in just a few holes. Can you catch some? Probably. Is it my idea of fun to sit on the same hole all day? Not really. There’s better options around right now, so I’d leave the basin fish be until the water comes up. Rapid Creek in town has been fishing quite well, especially on calm days when there’s been good midge hatches. BWO’s should start any day as well. If you see fish up on the surface – which you more than likely will – a dry-dropper has been the best approach. You can catch them on a single dry if you’re persistent enough, but if you want to catch a few more fish I’d hang a small midge/baetis pattern a foot below a dry fly you can see. If you want to fish a single dry, we’d recommend Eric’s Midges, Morgan’s Midges, and Sipper Midges. F Flies are a good bet as well. Klinkhamers and Hippie Stompers make good bobbers if you’re going to fish a midge just below the surface, and you’ll get a surprising amount of fish to eat them as well some days. If you’re out earlier or later and don’t see much on the top, the good ol’ Jig and a Midge has been working just fine. The jig is essentially going to be a weight fly, and the majority of the fish will eat the smaller dropper pattern. I’d say any midge or BWO pattern in a size 18-20 should work just fine – Two Bit Hookers and UV Midges are good bets, but Zebra Midges work just fine most days. There’s fish in surprisingly skinny water in some spots, so make sure and keep your eyes peeled while you’re walking between spots.
Spearfish Creek in the canyon is an option, but there’s a limited number of spots that see sun and won’t be icy or have snoozing fish. If you head into the canyon, go mid day and focus on the spots that have some sunlight on them. Spearfish Creek in town has been fishing very well, primarily with nymphs. There’s fish just about everywhere, from riffles to the deep holes so try and make yourself fish everything. Last time I was up there, we caught fish on surprisingly big flies. We used a lot of 14s, and didn’t get a whole lot of action on smaller flies. I’d use a double jig setup if I was headed to Spearfish, with something skinny and dark colored for a second fly. We caught a good number of fish on Jig Assassins, Soft Spots, and Yellow Spots. I’d drop a Sweet Pea or Skinny jig a foot behind on 6x tippet. As per usual with Spearfish, there’s a lot of fish in the water that’s less than knee deep, so don’t overlook anywhere there’s a bit of an edge or seam. The bites are really subtle when the water is this cold, so make sure and set the hook on any small movement of your indicator. I like yarn/wool for an indicator this time of year. I feel that it’s a lot more sensitive, and you definitely see more strikes. You have to dry it out occasionally, but other than that it’s foolproof. The New Zealand indicator is the best option out there for subtle bites!
Sand Creek and Crow Creek are both fishing well, and have the warmest water around the Black Hills right now. Sand Creek has been getting a good BWO hatch, and is one of the best options around for consistent dry fly fishing right now. The best surface action is going to be from 10-2 most days, with a smaller window in there where it’s really good. CDC Thorax Duns, Smith’s BWO, Students, Sparkle Duns, and a number of other Blue Winged Olive patterns in size 16-20 will all work well, depending on how picky the fish are on any given day. If you’re going to fish Crow Creek and see fish rising, the same flies will work great. If there’s not much on the surface, nymphing will usually get the job done. Soft Spots, Yellow Spots, Jig Red Butts, Sweet Peas, Skinny Jigs, Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, and other tungsten patterns in size 14-18 will work fine. As usual, the fish aren’t terribly selective, as long as you can get it in front of them without spooking them on Crow Creek. Sand Creek is going to be your best bet for active fish on the surface consistently!
Overall fishing has been solid considering the cold weather we’ve been having every few days. We’ve had a few guided trips out that have been very successful, and folks in the shop that have been getting out have been doing well overall. Swing by the shop for the latest hot flies, or give us a call if you want to book a day with one of our guides or if you have any other questions!
Also, don’t forget about Hank Patterson tonight at 6 pm at Wings & Rings (Corner of Sheridan Lake Road and Catron Boulevard), and tomorrow night at the Alex Johnson at 7pm. In addition, we’re hosting the Fly Fishing Film Tour again this year on February 28th at 7pm at the Elks Theather – tickets are available at the shop or at the Elks!