We’ve had a wet start to our week, but the fishing continues to be excellent just about everywhere. The central to southern Black Hills got a healthy hit of moisture last night, and it looks like tonight is expected to be wet as well. What does that mean for the fishing? Unless we get a huge rain that camps over the upper hills for awhile, nothing should change a whole lot. It might dirty up a few streams for a day or two, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – just fish bigger flies. The fish still have to eat!
Rapid Creek above Pactola spiked again, and is running pretty cloudy. I’d leave it for a few days until it settles down a bit, but you might be able to dredge up a few fish on big nymph patterns like North Fork Specials, worms, and Pat’s Rubber Legs. Rapid Creek below Pactola is flowing around 100 cfs, which is a great summertime flow. Fishing from the dam all the way to town should be solid. Terrestrial fishing is a good option this time of year if you’re so inclined. Bloom’s Parachute Ants, Foam Beetles, Morrish Hoppers, and Hippie Stompers are all good bets if you find some fish in shallower or riffly water, especially if they’re close to the bank. If you want to nymph, the standard fare has been working well. Fish a Boat Anchor Scud, Tungsten Worm, or larger jig fly for your lead pattern. Drop a Zebra Midge, annelid, Two Bit Hooker, Split Back PMD, or small baetis pattern behind on light tippet and you’ll pick up some fish. The further towards town you get, the more opportunistic the fish will be. I would fish a terrestrial trailed by a small tungsten fly like a Tung Teaser, Assassin, Psycho, or various other small jig patterns. Fishing on Rapid Creek in town has been excellent. The flows came up last night, but they’ve come most of the way back down as of this afternoon. It’s a touch off color, but fishing is still solid. Nymphing will pick up the most fish, but you can also fish terrestrial/dropper rigs and do well in the right types of water. I would fish a 12-14 jig fly for your lead pattern as a weight to get down, and trail it by a smaller jig or slender fly. Skinny Jigs, Sweet Peas, Peacock Jigs, and Assassins are all solid bets in a size 14-16. If the water comes up and gets a little dirty, try fishing a leech, Pat’s Rubber Legs, or bigger worm pattern – you’ll be surprised how large of flies the fish will eat in higher flows. If you’re fishing the riffly in-between water, I would recommend fishing a Hippie Stomper or Parachute Ant trailed by any of the above jig patterns. There’s a lot of fish on the edges in the choppy water right now.
Spearfish Creek has been fishing very well also, both in town and in the canyon. If you want to catch more, smaller fish I would fish the canyon. Nymphing has been very good, and there’s some solid dry fly opportunities as well. If you’re nymphing, the jig-trailed-by-whatever-small fly you like has been getting the job done. Fish a 12-14 jig or caddis pattern as a lead fly, trailed by a Skinny Jig, Assassin, Duracell, Perdigon, or smaller midge or BWO pattern. If you’re in the canyon, make yourself fish everything – there’s tons of fish in the choppy knee-deep water, and they’ll eat a lot larger flies. If you want to fish dry flies, I would fish a combination of terrestrials and smaller caddis patterns. Good terrestrials are similar to Rapid Creek – Hippie Stompers, foam beetles, Parachute Ants, Klinkhamers, and Stimulators are good bets in size 12-16. There’s been some caddis coming off as well. Bloom’s Parachute Caddis is hard to beat, as well as a regular old Elk Hair Caddis. Terrestrials are good bets on Spearfish Creek in town as well. Nymphing with the same patterns as the canyon will pick up a lot of fish, with the addition of worms and leeches. You can’t go wrong no matter where you choose to fish in Spearfish Canyon or in town!
Castle Creek above Deerfield is seeing it’s annual sucker spawning migration, and the rainbows and brook trout are following them up out of the lake eating their eggs. It’s been pretty busy with both spin fishermen and fly fishers, so don’t expect to be alone. Fish various scud patterns or brighter colored jig flies like a Yellow Spot or Soft Spot behind the suckers in the skinny water. The rainbows are typically in the next adjacent deeper water below the suckers. It’s not particularly sophisticated fishing, but it’s not difficult and is a great choice for a beginner or kids! Castle Creek below Deerfield is flowing at 20cfs, which is an excellent flow that’s high enough to spread the fish out but not so high that it’s hard to fish. Dry-droppers are the name of the game there – Hippie Stompers, Klinkhamers, and Stimuators are hard to beat for dries. Good dropper flies include tungsten midges, Tung Teasers, Psychos, Skinny Jigs, and Jig Assassins in 16-18. If you want to fish a single dry, I would suggest smaller Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Adams, Stimulators, and Bloom’s Parachute Ants in size 14-16. As per usual, anywhere where the creek bends or runs into a bank making a little deeper water is where you’ll find the vast majority of your fish. The fish in the straight, glassy water can be surprisingly spooky.
Crow Creek and Sand Creek are starting to get a little weedy, which means it’s terrestrial time of year. When they’re weedy, I don’t like fighting with the weeds trying to fish nymphs. The same terrestrials as elsewhere will work great – Beetles, Ants, Hippie Stompers, and small hopper patterns will work well. Be sneaky on both of these creeks – the water is pretty slow overall and the fish can see you coming and feel the water pushing around them if you’re wading fast. Any lane that’s not weedy and knee deep or more will hold fish, so just work your way up and throw a cast or two to each spot!
Spring Creek has been starting to fish fairly well below Sheridan. They’ve been running the cold water valve, and there’s a decent number of fish around. Concentrate on the larger pools and runs along the road, and hike up from the trailhead towards the dam as well. Mostly nymphing, but there’s been some caddis and yellow stones this over the last few weeks. You’re not going to go up there and catch thirty fish, but it’s nice to have another option around that’s fishing! Barr’s Tung Teasers, Jig Pheasant Tails, and Jig Prince nymphs will be good options. Try woolly buggers, sculpzillas, Kreelexes, and other small to mid sized streamers in the large pools. If you’re not seeing fish, keep moving until you find some – they’re typically pretty active if they’re around.
If you’re looking for some big, easy rainbows don’t overlook Pactola. We were pike fishing there a fair amount over the past couple weeks, and nearly every bay had dozens or more 16-20″ rainbows cruising around. Stripping small buggers and leeches will work great, as well as indicator fishing with leeches and scuds. I would recommend a light sinktip or intermediate line to help keep your flies down a bit if you’re stripping flies. Easy, big fish!
Pike fishing has been solid on Sheridan and Pactola. The Pactola fish are their normal picky selves, but they can be convinced to eat if you’re persistent. Fish an intermediate tip or type 3 sink line to help keep your flies down in the strike zone. Persistence is the key at Pactola. You’re not going to catch many, but there’s the potential for some really monster fish every time you head up there. You’ll see big fish and move good numbers of fish, but persuading them to eat can be tough. The more fish you can get your fly in front of, the better your chances are of finSheridan Lake has been fishing well for pike, and they’re significantly more willing. They run considerably smaller on average than the Pactola fish, but they actually eat more often than not. Type 3 lines are a minimum here I would say, and we’ve been having good luck with the SA Sonar Int/3/5 line.
Fishing has been pretty solid nearly everywhere, so pick where you want to go and you’ll find some fish. Swing by the shop for the latest flies and intel, and give us a call or shoot us an email if you want to go out on a guided trip with us and see the best fishing the Black Hills has to offer!