We've had a hot few days around the Black Hills, but we've cooled off a bit and the fishing is excellent! The water levels most places are starting to turn a little more normal, and the fish have been more than willing nearly everywhere. No matter what type of fishing you like doing, there's something around the Black Hills that's fishing great! Rapid Creek above Pactola is flowing around 110, which is finally low enough for it to start fishing well. Nymphing is going to be your best bet, with reasonably large flies working best. Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, North Fork Specials, Mop Flies, and various size 12-14 jig patterns will all get the job done. If you're in the skinnier water, you can get away with fishing a dry-dropper type rig as well - try a Hippie Stomper or Klinkhamer for the dry. Focus on the deeper, slower water for the most part, but don't overlook the choppier stuff as well. If you hike in past the first few bridges, the fish start to get a little smaller but much more eager to eat a wide variety of flies. Rapid Creek below Pactola is fishing well, mostly with nymphs also. There's some dry fly fishing as well, mostly with PMDs in the evenings. Try a Vis-A-Dun, Sparkle Dun, Comparadun, F Fly, or Brook's Sprout Emerger in size 16-20 if you see some noses poking up. You can get a few fish to look at a cricket, beetle, or ant pattern as well if they're close to the bank. Nymphing is going to be the most productive tactic, with PMD nymphs being the most important food source on the menu right now. I would fish a pretty large scud pattern for the lead pattern in size 10-14, mostly as a weight to help get the fly down. For the dropper, small PMD nymphs are working pretty darn well. Split Back PMDs, Two Bit Hookers, Pheasant Tails, and various other small, brown/yellow nymphs in size 18-20 will get the job done. Make sure you're fishing enough weight and length to get your flies down to the fish and you'll do well. Fishing in town has been solid as well, and should be a little better with the slightly lower water flows. Nymphing is going to be your best bet in town, but if you're in the right types of water you can fish the same nymphs below a Hippie Stomper or Fuzzy Wuzzy and get some fish to check out the dry. I've been doing well with big tungsten worm patterns, Mop Flies, and various jig patterns in size 12-14. The water is pretty fast, so make sure and focus on the edges/seams/areas behind rocks and anywhere the current is broken. There's not a lot of fish in the belly of the run right now, so make yourself fish the edges and seams and you'll find plenty of fish. The fish have been fat, healthy, and larger than average so far this year! Spearfish Creek is actually on the lower side compared to average, but is still fishing excellent. The fishing in town and in the canyon has been solid in both locations, and the hatches/flies are pretty darn similar. If you're nymphing, I would recommend a large caddis nymph or big, slender, heavy fly for your lead pattern. You'll catch fish on the big nymph occasionally, but it's mostly just a weight to get down. For droppers, try various slender bodied jig patterns in size 12-16. Skinny Jigs, Assassins, Slim Jims, Perdigon Jigs, PTs, and various other smaller jig flies are all good bets. If it's slim, they'll eat it. Make sure and fish everything, like usual - there's tons of fish in water that most folks walk past. There's been a good BWO hatch some days in town and in the canyon. If you see fish on top, you can get them to eat. Sparkle Duns in a size 18 are hard to beat, but Students, Brook's Sprout Emergers, and good ol' Parachute Adams are good bets. The currents in Spearfish Creek can be very conflicting, so fish a long tippet and try and pile it up a bit on your cast - you'll get a much better drift in tricky currents. If you're looking for numbers of fish, Spearfish Canyon has been fishing great! Castle Creek is flowing around 20 cfs below Deerfield, which is a good flow for fishing dry flies and dry droppers. Dry-droppers are the name of the game there – Hippie Stompers, Klinkhamers, and Stimulators are hard to beat for dries. Good dropper flies include tungsten midges, Tung Teasers, Psychos, Skinny Jigs, and Jig Assassins in 16-18. If you want to fish a single dry, I would suggest smaller Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Adams, Stimulators, and Bloom’s Parachute Ants in size 14-16. Anywhere where the creek bends or runs into a bank making a little deeper water is where you’ll find the vast majority of your fish. The fish in the straight, glassy water can be surprisingly spooky, but with the higher flows they’ll be easier to convince than if the water was lower. Not a lot has changed on Crow and Sand - so same story as last week! Crow Creek and Sand Creek are fishing good, mostly with terrestrial patterns. The weeds can be a serious pain this time of year, so fishing dry flies is much easier and oftentimes just as effective. Hoppers are an option, but smaller terrestrials will work better for the next couple weeks until the grasshoppers come out in full force. Foam Beetles, Bloom’s Parachute Ants, Parachute Crickets, Hippie Stompers, Klinkhamers, and smaller Morrish Hoppers will work well. You can often blind fish a generic dry like a Parachute Adams or Stimulator and do surprisingly well also – You’ll be fishing in the lanes between the weeds more often than not. As always in the summer, be mindful of rattlesnakes on both Crow and Sand. Spring Creek is fishing well. It's going to be primarily stocked fish, but it's a good option if you want some easier fish, or if you're new/taking someone new to fly fishing out. There's good numbers of fish in the deep holes/runs along the road, as well as up on the trailhead. I would fish medium size tungsten flies - North Fork Specials, Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Pheasant Tails, and various jigs in size 12-16 will all work just fine. With the influx of water, many of the smaller streams are fishing well also. 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! It's going to be a great week to be fishing in the Black Hills. We've had a lot of folks out fishing over the past week, and we've had some great days! Give us a call if you want to spend a day with one of our guides, and feel free to swing by the shop or give us a call if you want the latest scoop on Black Hills Fly Fishing!
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