July 10, 2019 5 min read
The water has come up a lot over the past week, but most of the creeks are back down to fishable levels. The fishing has been excellent most everywhere you can find clear water. If the visibility is in the 2′ range or more, you’re in good shape. Bigger flies and fish that aren’t spooky make high water nice!
Rapid Creek above Pactola is high and dirty. It will be several weeks at best before it’s fishable.
Rapid Creek below Pactola is high at 495, and is probably going to stay at that flow for a couple weeks at least. The fishing is decent if you can find places where the water slows down. Anywhere the water is broken or about walking speed is where the fish will be. It’s more like fishing a big western river than a small tailwater right now – long leaders, 3/4″ bobbers and lots of weight are the key to doing well right now. If you’re not on the bottom when nymphing, you’re not deep enough. Tungsten Worms, Mop Flies, Craneflies, and various jig flies in size 12-16 are good bets. The fish aren’t super picky about flies, but you have to pick the right types of water – they’re definitely in the slower stuff and on the edges. Streamer fishing is another great option as well, with larger flies working well. Lil Kims, Urchins, Dungeons, Home Invaders, Silk Kittens, and various other big streamers will work well. Throw a big mend to let them sink and try and make them come across the current as slow as possible.
Rapid Creek in town is fishing well with nymphs and various streamers. It’s pretty similar to below Pactola with worms and mop flies being the best bets. Mops, Squirmies, Pat’s Rubber Legs, and size 10-14 jig flies in various colors are good bets. The fish are mostly within the first few feet of the shoreline – the first dropoff is your best bet. You can pretty much stand on the bank in most places and fish really close – there’s not a lot of fish in the center right now, so make yourself fish a little closer than you typically would. Smaller streamers are a good way to cover more water as well – Kreelexes, Sculpzillas, Home Invaders, and various smaller articulated patterns are good bets.
Spearfish Creek is down to 110 cfs or so, band should keep dropping. 110 is more than fishable, and it pushes the fish out to the edges and into the riffles a bit rather than just being in the bigger holes. Nymph fishing is going to be your best bet, but the terrestrial fishing should pick up considerably over the next week or so – we’ve pumped a lot of fish with ants over the past week. For lead flies, try a tungsten Pat’s Rubber Legs, Tungsten Squirmy Wormy, or size 12-16 jig fly. Something heavy and with a little bulkier profile will work well in the higher, dirtier water. Good droppers include Yellow Spots, Skinny Jigs, Peacock Jigs, Tung Teasers, Brush Hogs, Optic Nerves, and Tungsten Zebra Midges. The fish in the upper canyon are a bit pickier, and smaller flies on 6x will work better up there. As you get down the canyon, the water gets a touch dirtier and you can get away with larger tippet and flies. Terrestrial fishing is good, especially in the lower canyon. There’s a lot of spots on Spearfish with overhanging grass, and the fish like to sit underneath or just to the edge of the grass and eat terrestrials that fall in. There are a few caddis around in the evenings in the canyon as well.
Castle Creek below Deerfield is high, but you can find some fish in the slower inside bends and wider sections. The fish have been significantly larger than normal, with a lot of browns in the 12-15″ range around. Nymph fishing is going to be your best bet until the water comes down into the 40cfs range. Worms, Mops, Soft Spots, Assassins, and various other jig patterns in size 12-16 will work well. If you’re in the slower water, you may need to fish a smaller midge dropper. If you’re getting your fly in front of the fish you’ll get some action – just find the slower edges where the fish are hanging out.
Spring Creek below Sheridan Lake is high but fishing well. All of the bridges on the trailhead are broken, but if you’re a good wader you can get across them. The fishing is good, mostly with nymphs. The same flies as Spearfish and Rapid Creek will work great.
Custer State Park is high, but there’s plenty of options. Best fishing will be on the Grace Coolidge Walk-In area and on French Creek near Blue Bell – we’ve had a couple folks in the shop that had good luck on the ponds on Grace Coolidge. On Grace Coolidge fish a dry dropper rig with a Fat Frank as your lead fly, and various jig flies in size 12-16 as a dropper. French Creek near Blue Bell lodge is fishing good as well, as long as you concentrate on the deeper runs and pools. There are quite a few creek chubs around, but there are some quality brown trout and brook trout to be found. Fish deep with black copper johns, jig hare’s ears, jig copper johns, or jig PTs. Streamers will also work here. Later in the day caddis and little yellow stones could bring fish to the surface. Various smaller terrestrials will work on the edges and in the riffles.
Not much change in warmwater fishing over the past week – Warmwater fishing for bass and bluegills has been solid on Sheridan Lake, as well as on the prairie lakes east of Rapid City. New and Old Wall dams are good bets, as well as Bruce dam. Popper fishing has been good early in the morning, and fishing sinking flies will work well throughout the rest of the day. Pike fishing has been good for smaller fish at Tisdale as well.
Fishing has been good to great in the Black Hills, and with the drier, warmer weather we’re supposed to have over the next week most of the places that are too high now should drop into shape by the middle of next week. Give us a call to book a guided trip or for up to date conditions, or swing by the shop for the latest flies and gear!
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