It’s felt more like the Oregon Coast than the Black Hills over the past few days, and it looks like we’re going to get hit with another blast of rain tonight. What does that mean for the fishing? Well, the fish still have to eat. As long as the creeks and streams aren’t total chocolate milk, the fishing is still solid. We’ve had some great luck with clients over the past week, mostly due to being adaptable and willing to change and fish way larger flies than normal. Many of the creeks around are still normal flows, but most of them are up to some degree. Don’t let it scare you off – the fishing is still solid!
Rapid Creek above Pactola is around 150 cfs as of this writing, and is probably pretty muddy. I’d go elsewhere until it comes down into the 100-120 range. If you’re headed up there, really large nymphs in the size 8-12 range and streamers will be your best bet. Rapid Creek below the dam just got bumped to 150cfs as well, but it’s a crystal clear 150. The water will be clear no matter what, it’s just about getting your flies down to the fish. You can get a few fish that are close to the banks on dries, but nymphing will be your best bet. I would use a big tungsten scud/worm pattern as a lead fly, and trail it with another smaller worm pattern or PMD pattern. The fish were really keyed in on PMDs at 100 cfs, so I’m sure they still are at 150. Split Back PMDs in both tungsten and unweighted are good bets, as well as many other slender, brown/yellow patterns. You’ll have to fish pretty long and heavy from your bobber to your first fly – I would say 6-7′ and a BB weight or so is a good place to start. Adjust accordingly. Rapid Creek in town has been fishing good also, mostly with larger flies and fishing the edges and hard seams. Mop Flies and Worms have been good bets, as well as larger Jig Assassins, Soft Spots, Yellow Spots, and Slim Jims. Size 12 has been a good bet. With the higher flows, most of the fish will be pushed to the outer few feet of the creek, as well as wherever something breaks the current and leaves a nice soft edge downstream. With higher flows, try and make your rig almost all tippet from your indicator down. Your flies sink faster, and you’ll detect strikes quicker as well. The high water has scared some folks off, so you’ll have a lot of places to yourself!
Spearfish Creek spiked yesterday, but is still fishing well and is on the way down. The same flies as usual are working great – Tungsten Jig Assassins, Slim Jims, Skinny jigs, T Baetis, Brush Hogs, Tungsten Psychos, and various midge patterns are all good bets. If you’re up there during or after a high water event, I would add worms to the list as well. There’s a lot of times when the water is high and you’ll land a fish and they’re literally puking up worms – they must really dig them. If the water is clear, you can do well fishing smaller terrestrial patterns both in the canyon and in town. Bloom’s Parachute Ants, Hippie Stompers, Fuzzy Wuzzys, Klinkhamers, and Hi Viz Beetles are all good choices in size 12-16. Keep changing until you figure out what they like!
Castle Creek below Deerfield is fishing well, and is a nice flow at 20 cfs. Clear and cool all the time, so this is a good bet as well if we’ve had some rainy conditions. Terrestrial patterns trailed by a generic nymph will get the job done up there with few issues. Klinkhamers, Hippie Stompers, Morrish Hoppers, and various other size 12-14 dries will make a good indicator fly and get some attention as well. Drop a Tungsten Psycho, Tung Teaser, Slim Jim, Skinny Jig, or tungsten midge pattern in your favorite color as a dropper in size 16-18. Make sure and focus on the choppier water and places where the creek bends. It’s much easier to get close to the fish without spooking them, and they’re more willing to eat larger flies as well.
Crow Creek and Sand Creek are fishing well, but this is snake season on both of these creeks. There was a guy in the shop a couple days ago that saw a big (5′) rattlesnake in a tree that was above his head trying to get to a birdnest. Be mindful of rattlesnakes and where you’re walking/putting your hands if you’re going to fish either of these creeks. That being said, terrestrial fishing has been great on Crow Creek, as well as Sand. There’s a good Yellow Sally hatch on Sand Creek as well, so be prepared with a few Fluttering Yellow Sallies or small yellow Stimulators if you’re headed there. Morrish Hoppers, Hippie Stompers, Bloom’s Parachute Ant, Hi Viz Beetles, and Fuzzy Wuzzys are all good flies on both of these creeks. If you want to nymph, generic stuff like skinny jigs and Tung Teasers will work great.
Spring Creek has great flows, but few fish. You can catch a few stockers by the road, but the folks that have been up to the trailhead haven’t been seeing a lot. We’ll keep you updated if it improves.
With the influx of water, many of the smaller streams are fishing well also. Elk Creek, Box Elder Creek, Hanna, Little Spearfish, upper Whitewood, and the uppermost sections of Rapid and Spearfish are all good bets if you want to catch relatively easy fish in solitude. You can fish generic dry fly patterns and do well, as well as dropping smaller nymph patterns behind to pick up a few bonus fish. Klinkhamers, Stimulators, Hippie Stompers, and various other attractor dries are good bets in the dry department. Try Tung Teasers, Soft Hackle Pheasant Tails, Psycho Nymphs, and small jig patterns for droppers. This is easy, unsophisticated fishing and is a ton of fun on a little 3 weight or glass rod!
Fishing has been solid despite damp conditions, and we’ve had some great guided trips over the past week. Give us a call if you want to book a day with the best guides in the Black Hills, or if you have any questions about current fishing conditions. Swing by the shop and we can get a map out and show you where to go and what to use as well!