Black Hills Fly Fishing Report September 15th 2023

black hills brown trout terrestrial ant hopper

Black Hills Fly Fishing Report September 15th 2023

As the weather has settled back into more normal high temperatures for this time of year, we have seen much better fishing. Rain showers over the past week have been a nice boost to the streams in the Black Hills. Terrestrial Fishing is picking up. We are seeing good fishing with large attractor dry flies, hoppers, ants, beetles, and craneflies. The weather will warm up a bit as we get into the weekend, but the cooler nights and higher than average flows will make for good fishing.

Hot Dry Flies- Hoppers, Craneflies, Ants, Beetles, Chubbys, Caddis, PMDs, Baetis

Nymphs- Jig SF Olive or Rusty, French Nymphs, Frenchies, Zebra Midges 

Black Hills Streamflow Data is available here

Rapid Creek 

Above Pactola- Rain gave the stream above Pactola a nice boost. Flows are up about 10cfs over last week. The USGS gauge above Silver City is reading 58 cfs this afternoon. This is a great flow for this time of year. Fish tungsten nymphs size 14-18 Jig Pheasant Tails, Tung Teasers, Rio's French Dip, and Frenchies. Don't be afraid to explore further upstream by Rochford. While there may not be as many fish per mile in the area above and below Rochford, it sees very little pressure. 

Below Pactola - Not much change from last week, releases have dropped down a decent amount, but if anything that will make fishing easier below the dam. Hoppers and bigger terrestrials are working better. Releases are the same as last week out of Pactola Reservoir. Fishing immediately below the dam continues to be quality over quantity. Hunt for your target but don't expect lots of fish. Nymphing with PMD nymphs, baetis nymphs, and midge larva patterns has proved effective. Afternoons are seeing hatches of Baetis and PMDs. Best chances at dry fly fishing will be after 3pm. Hoppers, crickets, and beetles are good searching flies. Craneflies continue to show up. 

In town- Good fishing in town this past week and that should continue into next week. Tricos continue to hatch in the morning. Small baetis later in the afternoon. Seeing more and more craneflies. Fingers crossed we see many more craneflies. The fish go crazy for them. Dry dropper is a great option through most of town. Some of the deeper pools above Canyon Lake need a deeper nymphing rig. Search with a small hopper and dropper or a chubby chernobyl dropper. Skating a cranefly pattern will likely bring a few explosive takes. 

Castle Creek

No major changes, even if flows have changed slightly. Coming into Deerfield Lake up to 16 cfs, and releases from the dam are down to 13 cfs. Fishing is good above and below the dam. Dry Dropper or Hopper Dropper is a good option right now throughout Castle Creek. Fish a Chubby or Hopper with a split case PMD nymph dropper. With the lower flows fish can be a bit spooky on Castle. Keep a low profile and if needed use a slightly longer leader. PMDs are hatching below Deerfield, likely some BWOs as well. 

Spearfish Creek

Flow are same as last week. The stability should keep Spearfish Creek fishing well into next week. The gauge at Spearfish is at 63.1 cfs today. Dry Dropper with a chubby chernobyl or hippie stomper is a great way to cover most of the water in the canyon. Hoppers are working below the canyon and through town. Some of the slower runs and pools in the canyon are tough fishing. Fish light tippet and small flies for the best success there. Or try later in the day when there may be more bug activity. Small Baetis are hatching in the afternoons. 

Spring Creek

Rain showers have helped the flows on Spring Creek.  The flows are up to 16cfs from 8 cfs by Keystone. While the added flows and cooler temps have probably helped spring creek, it might not be the best option for fishing. The last few weeks of hot weather have not helped the conditions there. 

Box Elder Creek

Box Elder was also helped by the rain shower this past week. Flows are up to 19cfs by Nemo. Fishing should pick back up, best fishing will likely be above Nemo. 


Pactola has been stocked for the fall. Anglers will find big fish cruising the shore lines. Likely a mix of recently stocked fish as well as some hold overs. Some of these fish are quite big. The fresh fish won't be picky. Mini Leeches, Balance Leeches, Blobs, and damsel flies are the top flies for Black Hills Lakes.