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Black Hills Brookies

by Jeff D
(Kansas City)

What it's all about

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.

Comments for Black Hills Brookies

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Jun 14, 2017
Beautiful Fish
by: Les A.

Awesome wife that lets you fish on your honeymoon! Mine let me fish on our anniversary this past weekend (40 years). Alas, the evening I had scheduled for fishing was filled with fireworks of lightning. I didn't feel like being a lightning rod! I did get an hour of fishing in the following morning, but the fish didn't cooperate. They billed the lodge we were staying at as having good fishing on their small stretch of Billingsley Creek. They weren't telling the truth.

Brookies are one of my favorite fish, but Idaho now disdains them since they are not native. They raised the limit to 25 and several of the creeks near Boise used to have great Brook trout fishing according to several of my friends who have lived here a long time. Now they are practically fished out. There are plenty of stocker rainbows, but like you I would trade dozens of stockers for a good brook trout. I have a trip planned for July 3rd to target them in one of my favorite creeks. We are lucky that they take good care of themselves.

Jun 15, 2017
Rapid Creek
by: Martin

My son and I fished Rapid Creek within Rapid City and the tailwater below Pactola reservoir about 3 years ago. Dakota Angler and Outfitters in Rapid City is a real good fly shop the encourages Tenkara fishing. My son used one of their SATO rods and I used my TFO Softhackle. Had a great time catching rainbows and their guide was excellent. Beautiful area to fish with minimum traffic.

Jun 15, 2017
Cool pics
by: Brian cooper

I look at those pictures and dream of a chance to fish such beautiful places full of eager fish. Have never caught brookies would love a chance to do so some day. Thanks for the day dream fodder.

Jun 15, 2017
by: Garry Jackson (CO)

Would mind sharing your recipe for the sausage and stocker jambalaya? I need to expand my camp cooking repertoire.

Jun 16, 2017
The Recipe is on the box!
by: Jeff D

When I'm camping, I am not going to go through the whole rigamarole of making jambalaya from scratch.

I use Zatarian's Jambalaya rice mix. I first brown the sausage and sautee some onions and bell peppers. I make the mix as directed on the box, adding in the sausage and veggies.

While that's cooking I quickly cook the trout filets in some butter and set them aside.

I added the trout in after the rest is done, otherwise the meat will basically dissolve into tiny flecks.

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“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” - Benjamin Franklin

"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.

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