It’s been a rough winter here in the Lowcountry thus far, especially for the fish and the fisherman. As fly fisherman, we love adapting and thankfully the state has plenty to offer.
You can leave the South Carolina coast after breakfast and be shin deep in the crystal clear trout waters of the upstate after lunch. The Chattooga River runs the border and was the first place designated by the US government as a “wild and scenic place.”
It’s bigger water than most in the Southern Appalachians but would be a creek to most folks out west and is worth every minute it takes to get there.
Access of HWY 28 provides a easy walk into delayed harvest waters, or venture up towards Burrell’s Ford for smaller pocket water. Although we don’t always, trout thrive in these temperatures.
The river has a year round population of stoneflies so this is always a good place to start if your unfamiliar with the rivers current happenings. From there I find myself fishing small midges in cream, black, or red in sizes so small a mother would hate.
Approach with caution and start with a White Clouser minnow. If that doesn’t work, head home and do yard work!
Streamer flies that mimic small baitfish and sculpins can also be very productive in winter. If trout aren’t your thing, the major lakes of the state have striped bass that are deep most of the year.
These next few months, however, these brutes chase blueback herring and shad to the surface and into the backs of coves making them extremely visible to the fly fisherman.
Approach with caution and start with a White Clouser minnow. If that doesn’t work, head home and do yard work! The Striper is the South Carolina state fish for a reason; it’s strong, resilient, and beautiful. It’s a wonderfully diverse state to fish, now is the time to enjoy it! Pack the car, leave your fishing comfort zone, and try out some wonderful winter fisheries.
Scotty Davis – Lowcountry Fly Shop / Lowcountryflyshop.com
You may also enjoy reading Winter Tactics For The Lowcountry