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Black Hills Brookies
by Jeff D
What it's all about
One of my favorite fish is the brook trout, and yet here I am stuck smack dab in the one part of the country where brookies are practically nonexistent. Missouri has brown and rainbow trout, but alas no brookies. Apparently there are some in Arkansas, but I haven't had a chance to track them down.
So I was very glad when my wife wanted to go to the Black Hills of South Dakota for our honeymoon! Many of the streams in the Black Hills have brookies and I had been to the Black Hills before with my Scout troop, but as a leader had little time for fishing.
We stayed in Custer State Park, and if you're ever in the area make sure to fish Grace Coolidge Creek. It's stocked with rainbows but it has a healthy population of wild brookies. It flows through much of the park, and there's even a section called the "Walk In Fishing Area" which is wonderful pocket water interspersed with man-made ponds. I could spend an entire week just picking that stretch of the creek apart!
The creek itself is quite small, and often hemmed in tightly by trees and shrubs so the Suntech 27 was my rod of choice. There are areas where small dams create ponds as well, so I did break out longer rods for dry fly fishing those, but I really prefer fishing moving water.
As for flies, the fish weren't particularly picky. The water was slightly off-color from a heavy rainstorm that occured early in our week there, so the biggest factor was visibility. When I tried small drab flies I got fewer takes than when using larger or flashier flies. In fact, I caught the most fish on a size 8 UKB. The second most productive fly was a pheasant tail nymph with a bright ice dub thorax tied on the Wide Eyed hooks.
I also managed to catch quite a few stocker rainbows in Sylvan Lake on streamers or a jig-style ice dub thorax pheasant tail nymph under one of the ball floats. But that was fishing for dinner. I'd trade one wild beautiful brookie for a whole pile of stockers bows.
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin
"Study to be quiet." - Izaak Walton 1653
"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." Col. Robert Venables 1662
As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.
The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.
Beware of the Dogma