Black Hills Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing in the Black Hills

The Black Hills offer some of the best small stream fly fishing in the country. The unique geology of the hills, combined with its striking scenery, and plentiful trout streams create the perfect atmosphere for the fly fisher. Black Hills trout water ranges from tailwaters, freestones, spring creeks, meandering mountain streams, and includes numerous small reservoirs. Regardless of preference, there are fishing opportunities for everyone.

Black Hills Fishing

Fly Fishing Rapid Creek, Black Hills, South Dakota

The Black Hills combine great small stream fishing with unsurpassed scenery. Fishing is solid from mid March to mid November. Options for winter fishing exist during December, January and February. Unique weather patterns routinely deliver warm days throughout the winter. Some of the best fishing of the year can be found on a warm winter day. Midge hatches offer great dry fly fishing in January and February.

Black Hills streams and lakes are home to rainbow, brown, and brook trout. Tiger trout have been introduced to a couple area lakes. Streams in the hills are managed to have naturally reproducing populations. Three sections of stream have been designated catch and release fishing areas. The catch and release stretch of Rapid Creek below Pactola Reservoir offers some of the finest fishing in the area. Other great streams are Spearfish Creek, Castle Creek, Whitewood Creek, Crow Creek, and Sand Creek. With improving moisture Spring Creek, Box Elder Creek, and French Creek will once again offer great fishing.

Our lakes are also great places to spend some time chasing big trout. We have three larger lakes in the Hills (Pactola reservoir, Sheridan Lake and Deerfield Lake) as well as many smaller lakes that all hold good populations of trout. The lakes in Custer State Park offer excellent fishing opportunities (Sylvan Lake, Center Lake, Legion Lake, and Bismark Lake, and Stockade Lake).

When fishing Black Hills lakes, you can fish from shore, but the best way to fish the lakes is from a float tube or pontoon boat. Damsel and Dragon fly imitations and streamers are a good bet when fishing the lakes.

Come out and experience the scenic beauty of the Hills. It is easy to be spoiled by the relaxed atmosphere, great country, and awesome fishing.

See you in the Hills!

Black Hills Trout Streams


The most consistent stream fisheries in the Black Hills are:

  • Rapid Creek: One of the premier streams in the hills. Rapid Creek orginates west of Rapid City and continues east, eventually flowing through the city. The upper stretches offer good fishing for brook trout. Below Pactola Reservoir is a catch and release section that holds some of the biggest Black Hills largest brown and rainbow trout. The fishery extends through the city limits. Great fishing is available year round right in Rapid City!
  • Spearfish Creek: Spearfish Creek in Spearfish Canyon is the most scenic fishery in the Black Hills. Spearfish Creek also houses one of the few self-sustaining rainbow trout fisheries in the Black Hills
  • Castle Creek: Castle Creek flows into and out of Deerfield Reservoir. Both stretches offer great fishing for brook trout. The fishery above the lake appears to be supporting a healthy naturally reproducing population of rainbow trout.
  • Spring Creek: Spring Creek flows into and out of Sheridan Lake. The drought of 2000-2007 hit the creek hard, but the fishery below Sheridan Lake is fishing well again. When Spring Creek is healthy it supports an amazing population of aquatic invertabrates (meaning tons of great trout food). As a result it has some of the best hatches to be found on any Black Hills trout stream. Stop by this stream on your next Black Hills vacation.
  • Box Elder Creek: Box Elder Creek originates upstream of Nemo, South Dakota. At its headwaters, Box Elder Creek is a fantastic Brook Trout stream. Lower down it holds good numbers of brown trout and a few rainbow trout. Steamboat Rock Picnic Ground is a great access point.
  • French Creek: French Creek flows through Custer State Park in the Southern Black Hills. The drought took its toll on French Creek but it seems to be recovering. Fishing is best around the Horse Camp and down in “The Narrows”. The Narrows are some of the most scenic water in the Southern Black Hills. The hike in can be strenuous.
  • Other Waters: Aside from these streams, the are many other Black Hills fishing spots. Other streams to sample are Grace Coolidge Creek, Whitewood Creek, Crow Creek, Sand Creek, Little Spearfish Creek, Hanna Creek, Elk Creek, Little Elk Creek, Beaver Creek, and Slate Creek.

Stop by the shop for the latest Black Hills fishing report, the hottest flies, a map, and directions to the best fishing the Black Hills have to offer. Read more about Black Hills Fishing in Steve Kinsella’s excellent book Trout Fishing in the Black Hills.

Black Hills Hatches

Baetis (Blue Winged Olive) mayflies are common in Black Hills Trout streams

We have great hatches from April through September. Reliable hatches of Baetis, Caddis, Pale Morning Duns, Tricos, and Little Yellow Stone Flies occur during the season. Terrestrial fishing can be fantastic starting in mid-summer with beetle and ant imitations. Hopper fishing in late summer is always something to look forward to. Midges hatch year round with some of the best action happening on warm winter days. For more hatch information browse our Hatch Chart.

South Dakota Trout Fishing

Trout are restricted to the cold water streams and lakes of the Black Hills in Western South

Fly fishing for trout in Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota

Dakota (with a couple of exceptions along the Missouri River). Black Hills trout streams are the premier habitat for South Dakota trout. In the tailwaters, spring creeks, and freestone streams of South Dakota’s Black Hills anglers will find rainbow, brown, brook, and tiger trout. Lake trout and splake have been introduced to some Black Hills reservoirs. East of the Black Hills trout fisheries are restricted to put and take rainbow trout fisheries, with the exception of the spring rainbow fishery below Oahe Dam.