Hans and I took a break from guiding and the fly shop to hike into a little-fished section of Rapid Creek last week, and we were pleasantly surprised with what we found. There’s a surprising amount of water in the Black Hills that doesn’t get fished much at all during a normal year, even on some of the more popular creeks like Rapid. The difference is the fishes attitude is pretty amazing if they don’t get fished for often – they’re more likely to check out your flies, and you can generally use much heavier tippet and larger flies than you typically would be using under normal conditions. It pays off to explore a bit, especially on your home waters!
We parked the pickup and packed up all of our stuff into our packs, and started the downhill hike/slide down to the creek. This particular hike isn’t a particularly long one, but the end bit of the quasi-trail is nearly vertical, and becomes more of a sliding descent than a hike. The area of Rapid Creek that we were fishing is the place where granite meets limestone, and the water is quite different from other areas. It’s a bit of a hybrid between Spring Creek and Spearfish Creek, and is more reminiscent of a small western Montana freestone river than a South Dakota trout creek. There are lots of big boulders more or less evenly spaced across the creek, and the depth of the water is very deceiving. I hadn’t fished this part of Rapid Creek in a long time, and I walked through quite a bit of water that looked too shallow but ended up being fishy, knee deep water. After a short while, we adjusted our eyes and began catching fish out of water that didn’t look like much from a distance, but was super fishy up close.
Because we knew this wasn’t heavily fished water, we put a dry-dropper rig on and started fishing through everything fairly quickly. The Hippie Stomper was our dry of choice, as it has been just about everywhere lately – check out our blog post on this awesome fly. We were fishing a wide variety of dropper patterns, all of which seemed to work successfully. A myriad of different home-brew jig patterns worked great, as well as standards like the North Fork Special and UV Czech. The nice thing about places that don’t get pounded is that you don’t have to use 7x to catch fish – we used 3x to the dry fly and 4x to the nymph without any issues at all.
It seemed as though every likely looking pocket held a fish or two, but they weren’t pushovers by any means. We carefully fished through all of the good looking water and caught fish with longer casts and good presentations. When these canyon-dwelling browns were hooked, nearly all of them erupted out of the water multiple times, usually jumping most of the way across the forty foot wide creek by the time they decided to take the fight under the surface. While the fish weren’t enormous by any means, they made up for it in their attitudes. We caught a good number of sassy 10-15 inch wild browns, all of which were great looking fish that eagerly took both the dry and the nymph.
Hans and I fished up a half-mile at most, and caught a good number of fish between us. We weathered a short wind/rain storm, and fished through some beautiful water in a place that neither of us had been to in quite a long time. Get out and explore some new water, even if it’s only a few miles from home. You’ll oftentimes be pleasantly surprised with the solitude and the quality of the fishing, and it’s always fun to try some new water!