Welcome Friends!

FAOL Summer Fish-In 1999


By Al Campbell


Once a year, the folks at Fly Anglers On Line magazine get together at a prime fly fishing location to chase a few fish and have a fun time. Last year, it was Yellowstone Park and everyone had a great time. Although the stated purpose of the trip was catching fish, I suspect most of those in attendance were there just as much for the pleasure of sharing time with new and old friends as they were for the fishing.

No one can guarantee great weather any time, and weather sure had an impact on the Yellowstone trip. But, I don't believe anyone who went on that trip would say they had a bad time. Sure, the fishing was less than spectacular, but the camaraderie they shared made up for any problems the weather could throw at the new friends.

This year, the annual FAOL fishing trip will be in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Mark your calendars for the third week of June to attend this angling party in the center of the nation. The dates are June 12 to June 20 (Saturday to the following Sunday). More details will follow as the plan is finalized.

For those of you on a modest budget, don't worry about your bank account yet. This is not a high society fling designed to transfer large sums from your bank account to the accounts of those at FAOL. No one's asking you to spring next years payroll to cover a week in the company of literary giants like J.Castwell, Ladyfisher, Old Rupe or any of the other acclaimed flyfishers who will be there. We will all be paying our own way. Novel thought isn't it?

Since we will be paying our own way, we also will be looking for lodging that doesn't cost a bundle. (Cheap might be a better description.) Camping and low cost rooms or cabins in the same campground or lodge area is the goal. The closer to prime fishing this is, the better it will be. I currently have my vast staff (me, myself and I) working on the lodging question and should have it ironed out in a couple of months if not before then.

Now that you don't have to worry about your retirement funds disappearing in a week of fishing, what could the Black Hills possibly have that you would want to see?

Fall, Spring Creek Hmmm, that's a good question. Well, how about Mount Rushmore? Although there have been rumors, they haven't started blasting the likeness of James Castwell into the mountain yet. It's still the same as it was fifty years ago when the same four presidents cast their gaze to the east, keeping a watchful eye on this great nation. If you really want to view this national monument in all its spectacular glory, visit it on a summer night for the nightly lighting ceremony and the show that accompanies it.

Mount Rushmore

I could fish for a month straight without a break, but some people might like to view the country a bit. An hour east of the Black Hills is Badlands National Park. If you want a good look at what will happen to your back yard if you don't fill in the holes Fido dug last summer, this is the place. Like the Grand Canyon, this is a monument to the forces of erosion and the beauty they can create.

If you travel an hour to the west, you will be able to experience a close encounter of another kind. Devil's Tower (made famous in a movie about aliens) casts its shadow on the northwest corner of the Black Hills from its home in Wyoming. A pleasant hour long ride in the beautiful pines of the Black Hills.

Other sights within an hour of the best fishing in the hills include Custer State Park and the wildlife loop where you can observe bison, elk, burros, mule deer, turkeys and bighorn sheep. The fishing in the park is pretty good too, with several streams and lakes that will rival the best you've seen anywhere.

Center Lake Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, the Crazy Horse Memorial and a thousand clever tourist traps await you within that hour drive I mentioned. For night time entertainment, you might enjoy casino gambling in the old west town of Deadwood. This is the home of Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane. A tour of the huge gold mine is always fun too.

Wait, before you put away your fly rod and dig out those trendy tourist shorts and polo shirts, you might want to consider the fishing. Honest, that's the real reason for this trip. Scouts honor, I wouldn't lie to you, not even under oath. The fishing is worth the trip, but you might enjoy some of the other things too, especially if your family decides to join you.

Within the confines of the Black Hills, (all within an hour's drive from where you'll be staying), there are dozens of streams and lakes that hold hungry trout. If largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, perch, northern pike, walleyes, crappie, bluegills or carp are your favorites, they are here too.

Bluegill

I just assumed you might enjoy chasing a trout or two. On the trout menu we have browns, rainbows, brookies, splake, cutthroat and lake trout. The streams are usually populated with browns, rainbows and brookies. A few of the fish even get big enough to brag about.

Steve & Fish

Let's take a peek at a few of the streams and the scenery they have to offer. Although there are other streams and many more lakes here, I'll mention the most popular ones you will have a chance to enjoy.

Spring Creek is one of my favorites.

Summer, Spring Creek

It's a medium size stream with high cliffs, grassy meadows and large trout.

Spring Hook-up

Autumn Run

The mile long walk-in area below Sheridan Lake is some of the prettiest country you will ever see. Browns that average 12 inches and rainbows that average over 16 inches are common.

Average Bow

Rapid Creek is a wonderful tailwater with breathtaking scenery and some beautiful trout.

Rapid Creek

The three mile walk-in area below Pactola Dam is the best place in the Black Hills to catch a lot of big, wild trout.

Big Bow
Browns, rainbows and brookies are common.

Castle Creek is another tailwater fishery worthy of your casting skills.

Castle Creek

Grassy meadows border a stream that's loaded with brookies and some nice browns.

Brownie

These fish aren't sophisticated, just hungry.

Spearfish Creek flows near Highway 14 through a valley that's listed as a national forest scenic byway for its beauty.

Autumn Hook-up

Brown and rainbow trout are the common types here. This is primarily freestone water and the fishing is super.

The hatches you can expect are baetis (blue wing olive),

Baetis

tan and gray caddis,

Caddis

small yellow stoneflies (yellow sallies),

Stonefly

and an assortment of other aquatic insects.

Mayfly

If you'd like to learn more about this area (maps, pictures and links), visit the Black Hills Fishing web site. Then make plans to join us having a great time in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

~ Al Campbell


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