Trout Fishing Abounds in the Black Hills

Whether it’s the fly rod and a box of tried-and-true trout flies or a bag of jigs and a spin-casting outfit, anglers shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to tackle the streams and lakes of the Black Hills.

With streams warming up after a spring thaw and reservoirs with spawning conditions, there are more opportunities to shake a fly rod at for anglers on any of the miles of streams and reservoirs in the Black Hills of western South Dakota. With a fishing season that never closes, blue-ribbon streams, spring creeks and smaller dams and reservoirs offer up fine rainbows, brooks and browns, while deep reservoirs hold trophy lake trout, walleyes, pike and plenty of jumbo perch and other panfish to keep things interesting.

Whether your creel awaits the soft-hand approach to trout in the streams or rigging for a toothy walleye fight, spring is prime time for Hills angling. Many opportunities are within casting distance of communities in the Black Hills, like Deadwood. Whitewood Creek, the famed gold-filled creek that made legends and lore of Deadwood’s frontiers, is home to brook, brown and rainbow trout, and the creek flows right through town. A few miles up the road—truly up—and higher into the Black Hills is Spearfish Creek and its picturesque canyon, along with both manmade and natural dams, holding some of the best trout fishing in the region.

Rapid Creek is a catch-and-release only area just below Pactola Reservoir (home to the Hills’ current lake trout hotspot) and is a trophy-rich fishery. Other creeks, like Castle, Crow, Sand, Box Elder and French also produce fine fishing action. As a bonus, these streams are inside the Black Hills National Forest, where over 1 million acres of public playground exists. Sure, some private land is interspersed here and there, but you’ll find no worries in locating a stream all to yourself on the public ground.

Reservoirs like Pactola, Sheridan and Deerfield offer good trout populations, with Pactola being the go-to regional site for big pike and lake trout. In Custer State Park, Sylvan, Bismark, Center, Legion and Stockade lakes all are fish and trip-worthy. These reservoirs are mostly undeveloped, unpopulated areas along the shores, so don’t expect to see cabins or resorts (other than lease concessionaires) on these shorelines. You should expect to see pristine lakes untouched by development. These lakes, too, are in the National Forest (while ponds at Custer are in the State Park), and offer fine boat launching, camping and fishing amenities.

For a true Black Hills experience, Deerfield is also a go-to. This reservoir is in the center of the Black Hills, accessible by a mix of gravel and pavement and large enough to hold state-record-quality splake and brook trout. The perch population is on a boom. The lake is a no-wake zone, even with its large size, so fishers need not compete with recreationalists. The Game, Fish & Parks Department has also recently stocked Deerfield with lake trout, and anglers have been able to hook into some, although the state is requesting these fish be returned to the lake so they can become better established.

Both Angustora Reservoir in the southern stretch of the Black Hills and the Belle Fourche Reservoir located on the prairie surrounding the northern Black Hills near the reservoir’s namesake town, are the walleye factories in western South Dakota. Belle Fourche Reservoir, or Orman Dam, is within an hour of Deadwood to its boat ramp, and limits of walleyes are fairly common in the spring.

Making your home base out of the Black Hills and South Dakota’s entertainment center of Deadwood can help to make your angling experience even better.