Fly Fishing the Black Hills
Like the Spearfish, Rapid Creek also has the potential to be a first-class fishery, with good angling for browns (and some rainbows and brookies) in pocket water and nice pools both above and below Lake Pactola.
The scenery is first-rate and, except for the steady automobile traffic, proves a wonderful angling destination. With all the cars touring the canyon, you would think this medium-sizes stream would be crowded, but there's always long stretches of water to have all to yourself.
Rapid Creek is the largest stream in the Black Hills, reached from Highway 44 (Rimrock Highway) west out of Rapid City in the central part of the region (although you can fish the creek through town below Canyon Lake). The stream is similar in looks and size to Spearfish, but the reservoir tailrace has created a section of river where larger trout reside.
The upper reaches, above Pactola Reservoir, are scenic but not nearly as productive as the tailrace below the lake. The spectacular valley with its 100-foot granite walls makes it worth a half-day trip.
Where the Wild Things Are
The drive alone through the canyon is jaw-dropping, so spending a couple of days wading and fishing Rapid Creek is even better. Keep an eye out for wildlife in the canyon ranging from bighorn sheep, deer, beaver, and goats to rattlesnakes.
Anglers can find access at Silver City above the lake. A hiking trail follows the river above and below the lake, allowing easy access. It is on this river where you have the best chance to hook into a 20-inch brown. Wade carefully and watch for finning fish. If you keep your eyes open, you will be sight casting to large trout.
The section below the lake holds plenty of monster browns as well as fat rainbows and even sizable brook trout. Working streamers hard in the big pools is your best method to land the lunkers. Hatches are sporadic and rarely thick, so most of the trout are opportunistic feeders and will rise readily to dry flies.
Because of its proximity to Rapid City, Rapid Creek sees a few more anglers than other Black Hills streams. It is not at all unusual to see businessmen fishing right after work in those stretches nearer town.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication