Growing up in a family of hunters & fishermen has lead Kristen Monroe of OutdoorNews.com to have passion for the outdoors. Recently, Kristen visited South Dakota for some old fashioned casting and blasting.
Some visit South Dakota for the great pheasant hunting. Others seek a peek at Mount Rushmore. But I was searching for adventure on the beautiful Black Hills streams.
I was anxious to wet my fly line in the picturesque streams and lakes in the area. The City of Deadwood and the Black Hills, Badlands and Lakes Association were our hosts for the 4th annual Association of Great Lake Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) Spring Cast & Blast event. Both greeted the media and our participating corporate members with open arms.
Twenty-four outdoor enthusiasts shared turkey blinds and hiked the natural terrain with hopes of taking home a Merriam’s turkey. Lori Smith of Indiana and Dean Bortz of Wisconsin saw not only turkeys, but also had visits from mountain lions at their respective blinds. Perhaps these powerful predators were seeking a turkey dinner? The sound of the purrs, clucks and gobbles evoked curiosity from the massive pumas. While ten had successful hunts, others were still smiling after experiencing a city rich in old, Wild West history and plentiful wildlife.
Twelve other event participants split up and headed to local lakes and streams to catch walleye, trout, bass and panfish. Lakes Sheridan, Orman, Pactola and several area streams produced beautiful catches and photos for the AGLOW anglers.
Rapid Creek is a tailwater fishery flowing out of scenic Pactola Lake. Its shallow, clear waters and large, experienced trout make it a highly technical stream. The fly-fishing was challenging yet delightful, and my persistence was rewarded with my first beautiful brown trout.
“The insects in this area are very small, and the trout are smart,” said David Gamet, manager and guide from Dakota Angler & Outfitter out of Rapid City. “You have to trick them with a nymph, long leader and light tippet,” he continued. If you have ever tried to fish with 7x tippet, you know the thickness is next to nothing. It was light and hard to control. The flies were equally tiny. I used a San Juan Worm as an attractor and a size 22 beatis nymph as a dropper. These tiny hooks presented another hindrance, as they kept getting covered with algae. But no algae was going to stand in my way. I cleaned my hook multiple times.
Indeed, the country trout were canny. I could almost hear their laughter while repeatedly roll casting my St. Croix 5-weight with careful determination. To avoid spooking these smart trout, I fished from the bank on my knees. Casting with stealth, I could hear faint rumbles of thunder in the background. Anxious to hook a trout before the storm hit, I casted like never before. I could smell the rain. Suddenly, a subtle hesitation of my strike indicator and I saw the brown eat the nymph. I lifted the rod gently and fought the glorious fish to the bank. My first brown trout was captured in the net, photographed, and released. We were caught by the impending downpour on our hike back to the truck, but needless to say, I didn’t care.
At the end of each day AGLOW members met and swapped stories at the Deadwood Mountain Grand Hotel, Event Center and Casino – a wonderful hopping off point for all of our Black Hills outdoor adventures. Deadwood is known as the city that never dies, a title it has earned after being rebuilt three times due to fires. Buildings don’t last forever. But like the surrounding mountains cloaked in Ponderosa pines, the tales of the Wild West will live on for eternity – as will our memories and outdoor stories.