The weather has been feeling more like spring lately! Most of the streams have bumped up from the occasional rain showers we’ve been getting, which has helped the fishing out a bit as well. The fish have been pretty darn happy just about everywhere throughout the Black Hills lately, and they’ve been willing to eat a variety of different bugs. Warmwater fishing has been picking up significantly as well – there’s plenty of options this time of year!
Rapid Creek above Pactola is pretty dirty still. If you’re headed that way I’d fish bigger, flashier streamers. Lil Kim’s and Kreelexes should be good. Below the dam is at 50cfs, which is a good flow for this time of year. The fish have been their normal picky selves, but if you’re persistent you can do well. Nymphing has been the biggest producer, with a little bit of everything working. I’d fish some sort of worm or scud as a lead fly, trailed by a size 16-20 midge or baetis pattern. Split Back Baetis, Two Bit Hookers, Frenchies, and various Zebra Midge patterns have been working well. Make sure and fish 6x to your dropper! There’s been some sporadic BWO adult activity, mostly on cloudy and drizzly days. Students, F-Flies, and Smoke Jumpers are good bets in an 18-22 size. Streamer fishing is always an option if you’re looking for a big boy as well. The particular streamer isn’t of too much concern. Just have a few different colors and sizes and make sure and use a light (2-4ips) sink tip to keep ‘er down there.
Fishing in town has been fantastic! We’ve mostly been fishing dry-dropper rigs and only targeting the shallower runs and edges, but you can nymph with a traditional rig and do very well also. Hippie Stompers trailed by a size 14-18 jig fly have been the moneymaker for me lately. Jig Assassins, Skinny Jigs, Quill Jigs, and Jig PT’s have been moving a lot of fish. The water is up a bit in town, and the fish have spread out nicely. Look for anything that slows down a bit or anywhere there’s a depth change of a foot or so and you’ll find fish. If you want to nymph the bigger deeper holes, the same flies have been productive with a Zebra Midge or Bubble Back Trailer. There’s been good BWO adult hatches, and the fish are up on them most days. CDC Thorax Duns and Smoke Jumpers have been our most productive flies, but a variety of small olive dry flies will get the job done.
Spearfish Creek has been fishing excellent. Both the canyon and in town have been fishing pretty similar, with the same flies working both places. It’s mostly a nymphing game, but there’s a pile of fish around that are very willing to eat! Jig Assassins, Skinny Jigs, Quills, Pheasant Tails, and Red Butts have been good bets in a size 12-16 depending on the depth and speed of the water. If you’re fishing the slower pools where the fish have longer to look at your fly, a Two Bit Hooker or small midge dropper will be helpful. I’ve found the fish in the canyon to really be keying in on green caddis larvae, so I would have some sort of 10-14 tungsten olive & black nymph as well. Tightline fishing has been really productive for us lately up there, especially with a sighter leader. Give it a try, you’ll be amazed how many more bites you get in the right type of water!
Castle Creek has been fishing well. There’s a bunch of rainbows above the lake, and they’re more than willing to eat. Size 14-16 Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Jig Soft Spots, and Boat Anchor Scuds are good bets. If they get picky drop a Pheasant Tail or something of that variety below as a dropper. Below the lake has been fishing very well also. Dry-dropper type setups have been getting the job done. I use a Hippie Stomper about 95% of the time as my indicator fly, and it’s pretty surprising how often they eat it even when there’s not many terrestrials around. Any jig dropper in a size 16 has potential to work well, with the addition of Tungsten Psycho nymphs as well. Just have a variety and change until you find something they dig. Don’t overlook all of the little edges where the current pushes into the bank as well, there’s a lot of fish in water that doesn’t look particularly promising!
Crow Creek and Sand Creek are having some of the better dry fly fishing in the hills right now. Students, CDC Thorax Duns, and Smoke Jumpers are solid bets in a size 16-20 most days. If the fish aren’t on top, use the good ol’ scud and a midge and you’ll find fish. Be stealthy and you’ll find the fish on both of these creeks.
A lot of the smaller streams in the Black Hills are fishing well right now, and most have good water in them. Upper Whitewood, Rapid above Rochford, Little Spearfish, Hanna, Box Elder, Elk, and numerous others all have great potential this time of year. Various attractor dry fly patterns will work well, trailed by a size 16-18 Pheasant Tail, Hare’s Ear, Psycho, or Tung Teaser. Put your flies over fishy water and you’ll find fish that aren’t terribly selective!
Pike fishing has been starting to get good. Pactola has a couple degrees to warm up yet, but Sheridan and Stockade are both plenty warm and the fish are done spawning and are pretty hungry! Various prairie lakes are fishing well also. We just tied a bunch of Piketola Minnows for the bins at the shop, and we have a selection of Wiggle Tails from Italy in as well to give your pike flies a seductive wiggle! Give us a call to book a pike guided trip.
Overall fishing has been great! We’ve been having some great weather, and the flows are good throughout then Hills. We’ve been out guiding a bit, and are starting to get busy. If you want to get out on the water with one of our expert guides, give us a call at 605-341-2450 and we can get you squared away. Swing by the shop for the right flies and advice before you head out!