Black Hills Fishing Report May 19th 2023

Greetings, fellow anglers! Black Hills streams got a dose of rain this past week. Stream flows are up but in great shape for fishing. The fish are happy and the fly fishing opportunities are outstanding. Here is what’s happening on Rapid Creek, Spearfish Creek, and Castle Creek.

Rapid Creek: The spring runoff is gradually subsiding above Pactola Reservoir. Hopefully, the Pactola Reservoir fills up later this week into next week so flows can come up below the dam. The rain this past week didn’t add as much to the stream flow above Pactola as we had hoped. Most of the rain fell downstream of the dam. We do have brown water in town, and it is lasting much longer than usual. There may have been a mudslide somewhere above town. Canyon Lake is clearing and once it flushes out the stream will clear in town. The stream was gradually clearing in town as of Friday. Anglers have reported success using nymphs and streamers, with patterns like Blue Perdigons, Mop Flies, Jig Pheasant Tails, and Thin Mint Buggers being particularly effective. As the water continues to clear, keep an eye out for hatches of Blue-Winged Olives and Caddis flies, which can provide exciting dry fly action. We saw the first caddis this week. Anglers also did well with terrestrials and attractor dries this past week. Try small Chubby Chernobyls, hippie stompers, and foam beetles. Stream flow above Pactola is around 85 cfs. Below the dam, it is 31.2 cfs. In town, the flow is 78 cfs as of Friday afternoon.

Spearfish Creek: Spearfish Creek received quite a bit more rain than the Rapid Creek drainage, but this hasn't hurt fishing too much. The flows were over 200 cfs this past weekend but are down to 105 cfs as of this report. The canyon section has been particularly productive, with eager rainbows and browns eagerly taking nymphs. Be sure to bring an assortment of smaller baetis nymphs and midge larva patterns. With the higher flows bigger lead flies will produce, try Pats’ rubber legs and san juan worm patterns. As the flows stabilize, we anticipate excellent dry fly fishing opportunities. Look for blue-winged olives primarily. However, we should start to see caddis and little yellow stoneflies. It isn’t too early to try terrestrial patterns like ants and beetles.

Castle Creek: Castle Creek is providing anglers with superb fishing experiences. The water levels are ideal, and the trout are actively feeding. Both the upper and lower sections of the creek are fishing great. Above the lake the fish are eager to take flies. Dry dropper rigs with chubby Chernobyls and copper johns are a good combo. Below the lake, look for rising fish from mid-morning into the afternoon. Once again, blue winged olives should be the primary hatch, but it isn’t too early to start seeing caddis and small stoneflies. Small Parachute Adams and Elk Hair Caddis are good dry fly options below the dam.

See the latest stream flows for Black Hills Streams Here: USGS Streamflows

With the added rain this week, there are good opportunities for Spring Creek below Sheridan Lake. Take advantage of the extra flow, this could be the best fishing of the season from the trailhead up to the dam.

Pike fishing picked up this week. Temps have been around 55-60 on Sheridan. The bite should only get better over the next week. Pactola was picking up for pike as well. The best bite right now is between 6-12 feet of water. Use an intermediate sinking line to a type 3 sink tip. The hot fly is a Murdich minnow in chartreuse and white.

Stillwater trout fishing is also going strong- big fish continue to be caught at Pactola along the shoreline. Anglers can also do well on Sheridan Lake near the inlet. A float tube, pontoon, or other float craft is best for fishing Sheridan Lake. We haven’t heard many reports yet from Deerfield Lake, but it should in prime shape right now.

Overall, the Black Hills streams are offering incredible fly fishing opportunities, and anglers are enjoying some fantastic catches. Please remember to practice catch-and-release. Keep an eye on the weather and stream conditions, as they can change rapidly this time of year. Not a bad idea to bring your rain jacket for when afternoon storms pop up.

If you're looking to make the most of your fly-fishing adventure in the Black Hills, don't hesitate to reach out to us at the shop. Our experienced staff and guides are ready to assist you in finding the best spots and selecting the perfect flies to match the hatch.

Tight lines and happy angling!