Trip Report by Dave Noll
When a person thinks of the Black Hills in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park immediately come to mind, not trout fishing. However, it is a slice of tenkara heaven.
The Black Hills contains tailwaters and lakes with large fish but it also has an incredible number of small streams that are teeming with brown and brook trout. And once my local trout season closes (October 15) in the Driftless, it is only a day long drive from my house.
During the last week in October Paul Lengeling, (aka The Big Muddy), and I rented a Vrbo near Nemo, SD. I arrived on Wednesday and met up with Paul and we headed out to a small stream for a couple hours of successful fishing.
The next morning we headed south to check out one of my favorite brook trout streams only to find it mostly covered with a thin sheet of ice. Plan B netted us chubs, brown trout, brookies, rainbows and some white crappies.
On day three we hit one of the tailwaters and it was a bust, in more ways than one. No fish and one shattered rod. We headed back to the first day’s stream and caught a bunch of brookies.
For our last day, we headed to a stream I had been saving. I had never encountered another person there and it is the epitome of a tenkara-perfect stream. Fast and narrow with plenty of runs and deeper holes. Oh, and because of the elevation, on this day it was snow covered.
It was 31 degrees when we started but the fish were open for business. It was a fantastic way to close out our trip, with gorgeous scenery, and great fishing. As a bonus we stopped at the Badlands National Park on the way home.
We will definitely head back again as there are many more streams to check out, although it may be a little earlier in the Fall as the days are really short.
Dave Noll lives in the Minnesota Driftless Area and in 2010 decided to take up fly fishing. After reading an article in Backpacking Light, he purchased a Hane, and in early 2012 contacted Chris Stewart about rods to purchase for fishing in retirement. Dave has now fished in 10 states plus Spain and Patagonia and usually gets out over 100 times a year.
This article originally appeared in the 2022-23 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.
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