We’re having a little return to winter today, but the forecast for this weekend is looking promising to get out and do a little fishing! Fishing in the Black Hills has been great over the past few week, and should continue to be fantastic. Flows on a couple local streams have come up a bit and made fishing considerably easier, and the BWO hatch has started many places as well.
Rapid Creek below Pactola doubled in flow a few days ago, which is fantastic for the fishing and the fish. When the water comes up a bit the fish spread out considerably and become a bit more willing. Blue Winged Olives have been hatching, and the fish have been looking up. Damp, overcast weather is perfect BWO weather, and the next few days are looking to be exactly that. CDC Thorax Duns, Students, F Flies, and Sparkle Duns will get some attention if fish are up on the surface. Nymphing has been good as well with the same wintertime rigs that we’ve been using. Use some sort of heavy scud or worm pattern for a lead fly, trailed by a small midge or baetis. Boat Anchor Scuds and Tungsten Two Tone worms are good lead flies. Split Back Baetis, Cheesman Canyon Emergers, Killer Mayfly Nymphs, Skinny Nelsons, and Zebra Midges in 16-22 make good dropper flies. The fish are always pretty particular, so just keep changing flies and get your depth right and you’ll catch fish. Streamer fishing can be effective as well this time of year, especially if you’re after bigger fish. Lil’ Kims, Rusty Trombones, Urchins, Home Invaders, and Kreelexes are good bets. Fish a lighter RIO Versileader to keep your flies in the strike zone longer! The rainbows in Rapid Creek are starting to spawn, and will continue to do so for the remainder of March. Don’t fish for spawners, and try and not trample all over the shallow redds where they’re spawning. The big rainbows are vulnerable right now, so be cool about it and fish elsewhere. There’s plenty of other fish to catch!
Rapid Creek in town has been lights out good. The Blue Winged Olives are just starting to show up, and the fish are looking up. The trout in town like a little bigger flies, so don’t be afraid to start with a size 16 before you start going small. CDC Thorax Duns, Students, Brook’s Sprout Emergers, and F-Flies are all money in town. Surprisingly, you can catch a lot of fish on attractor dry flies like Hippie Stompers and Klinkhamers as well. Nymphing has been fantastic, with the same old jig and a midge rig that we’ve been preaching all winter long. The lead fly is mostly just for weight, so we like a size 14 jig or so, as well as Boat Anchor Scuds. Various flavors of midges have been working well for a dropper fly. Dave just finished up tying a pile of Jawbreaker Midges for the bins – stop and grab a few before they’re gone if you want the best fly in town! The water is up in town as well, so the fish have a little more breathing room to spread out into some of the shallower water that they dig when they’re up on the surface. Small streamers have been moving some fish also – Lil’ Kims and Kreelexes have been the two best flies lately.
Spearfish Creek has been fishing really well, and the entire canyon is down to a traversable amount of snow on the banks. Nymphing has been the name of the game in Spearfish for the most part. I’ve been using some sort of big Czech nymph on the bottom, with a smaller 14-16 jig above it. Surprisingly, most of the fish have been eating the big fly. Size 8-14 Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Tungsten Rhyacophila Caddis, and just about anything else big and heavy has been a good fly. Worms are kind of a sleeper in Spearfish as well, especially if the water gets bumped up. Skinny Jigs and Quill Jigs have been solid bets in a size 14 as well if you’re not able to get them on the big fly. It’s possible to run into a great Little Black Stonefly hatch this time of year in the canyon as well, so I’d have a few F-Flies or small Black Stimulators if you’re headed up that way. Spearfish has been one of the most consistent options around lately!
Crow Creek and Sand Creek have some fantastic dry fly fishing right now, especially on cloudy, overcast days. Blue Winged Olives are the bug of choice, and the fish have been up on them in good numbers. The fish on these two creeks are spooky more than they are picky, so a stealthy approach is often necessary. CDC Thorax Duns, Students, F-Flies, Sparkle Duns, and even Klinkhamers are all getting some love from the fish. You can fish a small midge or baetis dropper below your dry if the fish get a little picky and do well.
Castle Creek should be opening up and the trail should be getting less snowy, so that’s an option now as well. I haven’t personally been there and haven’t heard of anyone that has, but there should be black stoneflies hatching. Worth a look if you’re feeling adventurous!
Overall the fishing continues to be fantastic throughout the Black Hills, and the weather over the next week looks like a great opportunity to get out there! We’ve had a number of guided trips out over the past few weeks, and have openings for the next few weeks as well. Give us a call if you want to get out on the water with one of our guides, or swing by the shop and we can get you headed the right direction!