Despite the wet conditions over the past week and higher water, we’ve still been finding good numbers of fish over the past week! The lower elevations of most creeks are pretty muddy and high, but if you venture up a bit higher you’ll find plenty of fishable water. The higher flows will help us out throughout the rest of the summer as well, and big water makes the fish fat and happy!
Rapid Creek above Pactola is blown out – wait a week or so before heading up there. Rapid Creek below Pactola is hanging around 250cfs, and is fishing well. Nymphing is going to be the name of the game, and fishing rigs like you would fish on bigger rivers like the North Platte or Bighorn will be the most productive methods. Don’t be afraid to fish pretty big lead flies – Leeches, Wire Worms, Boat Anchor Scuds, Tungsten Worms, and various large scud and worm patters will make a good lead fly that will get the fishes attention with the higher flows. For droppers, I would recommend sticking with midges/PMD nymphs still. Tungsten Split Back Baetis are solid bets in size 18-20, as well as Two Bit Hookers, Flashback Pheasant Tails, and various slender midge patterns. You’ll be fishing pretty big rigs – I would recommend a 9′ leader, 3/4″ bobber, and at least a weight or two in most spots if you’re going to be nymphing. Think big river and you’ll find some fish. Streamer fishing is solid as well. Use a 10′ sink tip and big profile flies like Dungeons, Home Invaders, and Circus Peanuts and you’ll move some nice fish. Make sure and fish the fly right up to the bank – some of the biggest fish will push way to the edge when the water is as high as it is now. Rapid Creek in town is pretty muddy but fishing well, primarily with nymphs but you can do well with the same streamer tactics as further up, just with slightly smaller flies. You’re going to have to fish big flies – Mop Flies and worms will get the best results. Fish the softest edges you can find and you’ll do well. The fish don’t want to be in the water in the center that’s ripping through, so make yourself fish the edges and right next to the banks and you’ll find some nice fish. The fish are considerably larger/fatter than they typically are, so don’t let the big water scare you off. Fishing when the water comes down a bit will be excellent as well.
Spearfish Creek is high and slightly dirty, but fishing rather well still. The further north you get the dirtier the water is, so just keep driving upstream until you find the clarity/speed that you like. We’ve been using primarily tungsten worm patterns as a lead fly, trailed by various jig patterns in size 14-16. In the canyon the water is pretty clear still, so you can fish slightly smaller flies there than you will in town. Slim jigs, Optic Nerves, Jig PTs, Soft Spots, Assassins, and Skinny Jigs are all good bets. Color doesn’t seem to matter much, but olives, blacks, and browns always seem to be good choices. Make sure and fish the softer, skinnier edges and you’ll find plenty of fish. You can fish heavier tippet than normal as well – We were up there two days ago and caught plenty of fish on 4x. Take advantage of it and lose less flies!
Castle Creek below Deerfield is still fishing well at 30cfs, and the holding water is more pronounced than it is when the water is lower. Dry-droppers are the name of the game. Hippie Stompers, Fuzzy Wuzzys, and Klinkhamers are all good dries. Drop a Skinny Jig, Tungsten Zebra Midge, Tung Teaser, Psycho, Soft Spot, or Peacock Jig below the dry and you’ll find plenty of fish. There’s no shortage of fish in Castle Creek, just make yourself focus on the corners and faster water. The fish in the slow, straight water are incredibly hard to get close to and they’re super spooky. Fish the good water and you’ll find plenty of fish!
Crow Creek is most likely blown out, but should be fishable in a couple days. Sand Creek will still be fishing well however. Dry dropper rigs are also a good bet on Sand Creek, and most of the water isn’t deep/swift enough to warrant using a full blown nymph rig. Fish on Sand Creek like eating terrestrials, so I wouldn’t hesitate to fish a Bloom’s Parachute Ant, Hippie Stomper, Morrish Hopper, Klinkhamer, or Hi Viz Beetle close to the bank. If you can get a terrestrial in front of a fish without spooking it, you stand a solid chance of hooking them. If they aren’t diggin’ the flies on the surface, try dropping a Tung Teaser, Psycho, or small Skinny Jig Below it as a dropper fly. If the fish get picky, Tungsten Zebra Midges and Two Bit Hookers are hard to beat. Sand Creek is probably the most normal flows right now, so it’s a solid option!
Spring Creek has spiked in flows, and is fishing well for stockers by the highway. Generic tungsten nymph patterns will get the job done. Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Worms, Slim Jims, Brush Hogs, Hare’s Ears, and Pheasant Tails are good choices. The fish aren’t super particular, just monkey with your depth and weight until you’re sure you’re getting it in front of them and you’ll do well.
With the influx of water, many of the smaller streams are fishing well also. They’re a touch on the high/dirty side right now, but should all be in good shape within the week if we don’t get a bunch more moisture. 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!
Warmwater fishing is another great option with the higher water as well – we have some fantastic bass and carp fishing this time of year, as well as options for pike fishing as well. If you’re interested in branching out from your regular trout fishing, give us a call at the shop or swing by and we can get you the right bugs and gear, as well as show you where to go! It’s a mostly untapped resource, especially with a fly rod.
Even with the wet weather, fishing has been solid. The rest of the summer should be excellent as well with the current water conditions. Give us a call with any questions, and feel free to swing by the shop if you want to know where to go and what to use!