We've had higher water over the past month on Rapid, Spring, and Box Elder Creeks, so many people have been trying out alternative places to flyfish. While there are still plenty of streams to fish, especially in the northern Black Hills, many people have been turning to fishing lakes. Center, Sylvan, Bismarck, Roubaix, Mirror, and Coxes lakes have all been producing great numbers of fish, and a surprising amount of dry fly fishing! You really don't need to have any watercraft to float on, but a small kayak or float tube could help you reach a few more fish. Here's a few maps to show you where the lakes that we've been fishing are located.
Mirror and Coxes Lakes
Custer State Park Lakes
The dry fly fishing can be incredibly good on all these lakes, and has been pretty darn good as of late. Callibaetis are the predominant bug on the menu, and the fish are taking them with little hesitation. If the trout are up on mayflies, you can lead them with a Parachute Calliabaetis or Callibaetis Spinner and 9 times out of 10 they'll eat it shortly after it hits the water. There's a few big lake caddis around as well, and skittering an Elk Hair Caddis can be exciting and effective when the fish are doing splashy rises.
If you see fish porpoising but not actually rising, stripping a lightly weighted nymph pattern like a Kern River Emerger or a Flashback or Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail will almost always pick up a few fish. You can do this on a floating line most of the time, but an intermediate line will put you in a more direct connection to the fly, which also helps with strike detection and hook sets. One thing I've found that helps you hook up on a few more fish is to keep stripping the fly and not stop moving it. I've seen fish following a stripped nymph pattern, and as soon as you stop moving the fly the fish will turn off of it. I've found to catch cruising fish, don't stop moving your fly.
If you're not seeing fish rising or porpoising, you'll have to get a few feet down in the water column. An intermediate line or a loop-on RIO Versileader will help you get down to the fish more easily. A number of patterns will catch fish, but the best patterns lately have been Vanilla Buggers, Mini Leeches, standard Wooly Buggers, and Pine Squirrel Leeches. The nymphs mentioned above will also work well if presented more slowly on a deeper sink. Bobber fishing can also be effective, especially if the wind is blowing and making a little chop on the water. This can be boring fishing, but it's incredibly effective. Large Green Weenies, UV Czechs, and Hunchback Scuds trailed by a Two Bit Hooker or UV Midge will keep you hooked up most of the day!
If you're looking to mix up your normal trout fishing routine, as well as have a few more options from the higher streams, check out some of our local lakes! There are lots of fish, and they're relatively un-pressured. If you have any questions on hot flies or where to go, stop by the shop or give us a call!