We’ve been in a bit of a cool, damp weather pattern recently, which has helped the stream flows out considerably. Nearly every stream in the Black Hills has great flows right now, and the fish are happy and less spooky than they typically would be. The weather looks like it’s going to turn around and be a bit more seasonal after the next couple days, and the fishing should continue to be great!
Rapid Creek above Pactola came up a bit with the rain the last couple days, but should fish well once it starts to drop back down after today. If you go up there once it comes down to 120 cfs or so, try nymphing with bigger, heavy flies. Mops, San Juans, Squirmy Wormies, Jig Pheasant Tails, Jig Hare’s Ears, Soft Spots, and various other big tungsten flies in size 8-12.
Rapid Creek below Pactola is fishing well, and is still pretty high at 170 cfs. You’ll need to be fishing some weight and a bigger indicator to get down in most of the runs. The fish have switched over to eating primarily baetis nymphs and midges now that the water has cleared up a bit, so you’ll need to downsize your flies slightly. Use a big scud or worm for your lead fly – the particular pattern isn’t super important, as long as you have something heavy enough to get down. Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Boat Anchors, and Squirmies are good bets. For the dropper, we’ve been having the best luck with thinner patterns in size 16-20. Split Back Baetis, Two Bit Hookers, Killer Mayfly Nymphs, Flashback Pheasant Tails, WD-40s, and various Zebra Midges are good bets. Make sure you’re getting down – we’ve been having to use split shot or two in most of the runs to get down to where the fish are. There’s not much in the way of dry fly activity right now with the flows being high. Streamer fishing is always a good option as well, with patterns like the Lil Kim, Home Invader, Threesome, Grinch, Dungeon, and various others being good bets fished on a light sink tip or Versileader.
Rapid Creek in town is moving pretty quick, but you can still do well nymph fishing if you fish bigger, heavier flies and find the softer water where the fish are hanging out. Most of the fish are going to be in spots where the current is noticeably broken, or the softer water on inside bends. Nymph fishing is definitely the most productive way to fish right now, with bigger flies working well. Mop Flies, Tungsten Worms, Squirmies, Tung Teasers, and various jigs in size 10-12 are good lead flies. Dropper flies we’ve had good luck with include Jig Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ears, Soft Spots, Assassins, Bloom’s Optic Nerve, and Skinny Jigs in size 12-16. The fish are reasonably willing to eat as long as you fish heavy enough to get down to where they are. The Didymo that was really bad in town the past few weeks has pretty much gone away and isn’t a problem anymore as well, which is an added bonus. The fish are quite a bit bigger on average this year!
Castle Creek is fishing well both above and below Deerfield. The lake rainbows are pushing up into the creek, and it’s pretty easy fishing for nice sized fish. Various jig patterns in size 12-16 will work great. They’re not picky, just get it in front of them and you’ll do well. Below the dam is a bit more technical, but is still fishing great. Dry-dropper rigs will cover the vast majority of the spots down there. Klinkhamers, Henryville Specials, Elk Hair Caddis and Stimulators are good lead flies. Droppers that will work are tungsten Midges, Skinny Jigs, Psycho Nymphs, and Tung Teasers. There are a few BWOs around most days in the mid morning as well – good patterns include Sparkle Duns, No Hackles, Brooks Sprout, Parachute BWOs, and Students in size 16-18.
Spearfish Creek is fishing excellent both in town and in the canyon. Nymph fishing is going to be the most productive 90% of the time, unless you see fish up on the surface eating BWO’s. If you do, the same flies as Castle Creek will work great. Nymph fishing is pretty much the standard fare – two jigs will get you taken care of the vast majority of the time. Assassins, Skinny Jigs, Pheasant Tails, Slim Jims, Jig Hare’s Ears, and various other worms and jigs will get the job done. There’s a lot of fish that are moving into summertime type water, so don’t be afraid to fish some of the faster, choppier water. There’s fish in pretty much everything on Spearfish, so don’t be afraid to mix it up a bit if you’re not doing well. Get the flies in front of them with a good drift and you’ll do well!
Sand Creek is fishing well, and you can get away with a dry-dropper rig most of the time. I like a Klinkhamer for a dry fly, but various other big dries like Bloom’s Parachute Ant, Hippie Stomper, User Friendly, and Stimulators will work well. Smaller droppers will work well, but don’t be afraid to mix it up if you’re not doing well. Skinny Jigs, Psychos, Tung Teasers, Assassins, Two Bit Hookers, and various colors of tungsten Zebra Midges will work well for a dropper in size 16-20. Fish the corners and choppier water and you’ll do better than fishing the slower, slick stuff.
Pike fishing has been slowly improving, but has been slow going with the cool weather. There’s some guys that are doing well on Pactola fishing heavy sinking lines and fishing structure, but you’re going to work for them. Sheridan should start to get good later this week when the water temps warm up a bit. Some of the prairie lakes are fishing well also, and the water temps are much warmer out there than they are in the hills lakes. By this time next week, fishing on Sheridan and Stockade should really start to improve.
Fishing has been excellent on all of the streams locally, and will continue to be great over the coming week. We’ve had quite a few guided trips out lately, and they’ve all had great success. This is a great time to be fishing in the Black Hills, swing by the shop or give us a call if you want to book a guided trip or for the latest flies and places to go!