The weather in the Black Hills as of this writing is excellent. Like 50 degrees excellent, and the near future is looking pretty darn good as well, with a minor cool-down on Friday and then stomping right back up into the 50's again! Dry fly fishing is continuing to get better and better, and nymphing and streamer fishing is great as well - you can more or less fish however you please.
Rapid Creek from Pactola to Rapid City is fishing well, with a few icy spots in the Hisega area. Other than that, it's ice-free and open for business. The dry fly fishing in town continues to be extremely good, and it may be the best midge hatch that I've ever seen in town. The fish below Pactola will start feeding more on the surface as the days get longer as well. Fly-wise, I've been doing best on Morgan's Midges, Eric's Midges, small parachutes, and F-Flies. I'm cranking out a few hundred F-Flies as we speak. Look for them in the shop bins in the next few days. Nymphing is productive as always, with little difference in the way of fly changes. For your lead fly, UV Czechs, G-String Worms, Jig Soft Spots, or any of your other favorite jig patterns will all do the trick. I like them heavy to get down. Trail them with a Bubble Back, Two Bit Hooker, Neon Gnat, or Three Dollar Dip for best results. The key is getting your fly down to the lower foot of the water column. Streamer fishing is great for the folks that aren't interested in numbers, but want to try and stick a bigger fish. Light RIO Versileaders are a benefit to help get your fly down, with 10 pound Maxima on the business end. Fly choice can really vary, but a few of my favorites are Kreelexes, Lil' Kims, and Home Invaders - I find that fly action and color makes a bigger difference than fly pattern alone.
Spearfish Creek is fishing well, and nymphing is the way to go. Look for the slower, slightly deeper edges and make sure you're getting down to the bottom. Jig Pheasant Tails, UV Czechs, and Jig Assassins are my favorite lead patterns. Trail them with a midge or baetis pattern of your favorite variety. I like Green Weenies, Two Bit Hookers, and Tungsten Split Back Baetis for my second fly. There's some limited dry fly activity, and it can be covered with a Morgan's Midge, Eric's Midge, Griffith's Gnat, or CDC Thorax Dun. Streamer fishing is always an option as well, just keep your flies in the 4-8 range and you'll do much better. Standard Buggers, Kreelexes, and Slumpbusters are good choices.
Sand Creek and Crow Creek are your best bet for dry fly fishing in the northern hills. There's a combination of BWO's and midges on the water, so be prepared with both. CDC Thorax Duns and Students are my go-to patterns for the BWOs, and Morgan's Midges and Erics' Midges are great for the midges. 6x and a stealthy presentation are key to tricking the risers on these two creeks. Nymphing is good, but the fish can be rather spooky towards indicators. Dry-Dropper rigs are a stealthier option that will trick a few more fish.
Spring Creek is fishing well with any number of tactics. Nymphing with the same flies as Rapid and Spearfish Creeks will keep you into fish all day. Don't overlook the skinny water either - Spring Creek fish really like the fast, foot deep stuff. Streamer fishing can get you into some of the bigger browns that call Spring home, and don't be afraid to go big. I like Sex Dungeons, Circus Peanuts, Home Invaders, and Lil' Kims fished on a light sink tip leader. There's been word of some great dry fly fishing on Spring as well, so don't forget your box of midge and BWO dries.
The fishing over the next week should be fantastic with the great weather we're going to have. Give us a call to book your mid-winter Black Hills fly fishing guide, or to just get up to date reports on certain streams. Or, stop by and grab a few flies from your favorite fly shop - we're open at 9 Monday-Saturday, and 10 on Sunday. Thanks!