The weather has been a little on the less-wintery side lately, which is a bit strange for February. However, because of the warm weather the fishing has been fantastic! The wind has been presenting a few issues some days, but when it's not blowing we've had some spectacular dry fly fishing.
Rapid Creek is fishing well both below Pactola and in Rapid City. Nymphing has been the most consistent way to catch fish due to the wind. The fish have seemed to prefer a little smaller fly fished behind a larger tungsten weighted pattern. I've been using jigs in a size 14-16 as a lead fly, as well as Tungsten Rainbow Czechs in a 14-16 as well. Behind that, fish a midge or baetis pattern for best success. I've become a big fan of the Three Dollar Dip in a size 18 over the past few months, and it's been producing well. Zebra Midges in different colors, Two Bit Hookers, and Neon Gnats have been good choices for droppers as well in sizes 18-22. The dry fly fishing in town is borderline ridiculous on the calm days! The fish aren't pushovers by any stretch, but a well-presented midge pattern will work well. Eric's Midges, F-Flies, Morgan's Midges, and Students in a size 18-24 have been the flies of choice. The smaller the better it's seemed as of late, and many guys have been fishing the fishier pattern behind a larger, easier to see pattern. I like Klinkhammers for that purpose. 6x tippet is your friend when fishing these really tiny flies as well. Streamers have been another option for those looking for a bigger fish or two. Below Pactola bigger flies will work well, like Home Invaders, Sex Dungeons, and Lil' Kims. In town smaller offerings have been best. Smaller Lil' Kims, Kreelexes, and standard Wooly Buggers have been good options.
Spearfish Creek is fishing well, mostly with nymphs. In the winter when the water is colder, look for the deeper, slower water in Spearfish Creek to find the most fish. The summertime, fast-edge-of-a-riffle type water won't hold nearly as many fish this time of year, but the deeper sections adjacent to them will be piled full of them! As per usual, a jig trailed by a midge or baetis pattern will keep you into the fish. Jig Assassins work particularly well as a lead fly, as well as the Jig PT or Jig Yellow Spot. Drop a Bubble Back Midge, Three Dollar Dip, Two Bit Hooker, or Green Weenie in sizes 18-24 are great bets. The canyon has been fishing increasingly well with the warm weather, so don't limit yourself to just fishing in town in Spearfish. Make sure you're on the bottom!
Spring Creek has been good also, especially on the sunnier days that warm the fish up a little. A number of techniques have been working here. Nymphing with the same flies as Rapid Creek has been productive, especially when the water is a bit colder. On the days when the water warms up, there's been midges coming off in good numbers, but they're really small. Your best bet if you see porpoising fish is to put the smallest midge pattern you have on below a dry fly that you can see well. About 12" down is good. Small and dark - sizes 20-24. Streamer fishing is a viable option as well, just keep your retrieves pretty darn slow.
Crow and Sand Creeks have become the best bets for consistent dry fly fishing lately as the fish have gotten pickier on Rapid Creek. The wind is your biggest enemy, especially on Crow Creek, but the bugs have been coming off in good numbers! Last time we were there we caught a surprising amount of fish on size 16 Klimkhammers, but drop a Morgan's Midge, Eric's Midge, or F-Fly below it to pick up the pickier fish. Nymphing was a great as well! Yarn indicators were helpful in not spooking fish. We did well on Boat Anchor Scuds, Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, and Three Dollar Dips. Dry-Dropper Rigs will be a great option when the fish are spooky also.
For those willing to go on a bit of a drive, the marina at Pierre has opened up early this year and Don Polovich was over late last week and did extremely well! He fished small, leech type streamers on a slow retrieve and caught some really nice fish, including the 27 incher at the top of this post. We're heading over tonight to fish for trout and pike, we'll have an updated report on the conditions early this week!
We've had trips out the past few days, and they've had excellent fishing. Stop by the shop or give us a call for an updated report, pick up some flies and tippet, or book one of our Black Hills fly fishing guides!