By Karl Ekberg
November brings the beginning of the holiday season, and for the rivers around the Chattooga River Fly Shop that holiday season started with the helicopter stocking of both the Chauga and Chattooga. Many great thanks to the awesome job form the great folks at the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery, for the incredible quality of fish that they have raised for everyone to enjoy. Many thanks also go to the folks at the US Forestry Dept. here for their help with this tremendous project. November 1st starts the Delayed Harvest time of year as well. On both the rivers, there is a section which are catch and release from November 1st through May 14th; during this time, regulations in these areas are single hook and artificial only. To clarify what “artificial” means, here is the direct information from the SCDNR hunting and fishing guide, page 33 for this year. “Artificial lure: means manufactured or handmade flies, spinners, plugs, spoons, and reproductions of live animals, which are made completely of natural, or colored wood, cork, feathers, hair, rubber, metal, plastic, tinsel, Styrofoam, sponge, or string, or any combination of these materials in imitation of or as substitute for natural bait. Lures or fish eggs enhanced with scents or salts are not artificial lures. Artificially produced organic baits are not artificial baits”. Single hook is also a restriction in these “Delayed Harvest” waters as well.
Now that the fish have flown, what, where, and when to fish is the next discussion. “When”, truly quite simple, is anytime for the first few weeks. “Where”, also easy, is most anywhere throughout the Delayed Harvest sections of the river. River access points, are the Hwy, 28 Bridge for the Chattooga, and Cassidy Bridge, and Hell Hole access points on the Chauga. “What” to fish is everything from the novice’s to the expert’s fly box, of bright, flashy, leggy, wiggly, buggy, or every combination thereof.
There is absolutely no doubt that, as the fish are growing at the fish hatchery, they are pellet fed for the general majority of their lives. With that being said, the fish do not realize that dinner is not coming anymore so they eat foolish things. Bug life has not registered as part of their diet in the first week or more. Whether it is a nymph, streamer, or wet fly type pattern, any combination of these will be beneficial for your trip to the river. Leader and tippet selection is quite simple. Just after these fish have been put into the waters, heavier is better. These fish are not shy about heavier leader and tippet size, only after some time in the waters do you have to down size; If you are not sure what size or length to use, we can help you out with your selection.
We hope to see everyone out on the rivers; we are open Tuesday through Saturday 7:30am-4:00pm and on Sundays frin 7:30am-2:00pm. We have a large assortment of Christmas ideas, including gift certificates for guided trips or the Fly Shop, preset flies in fly boxes, fly tying materials, rods, reels, waders and boots, local artisans’ works; and we can ship all items daily. Let us know how we can help you with a guided trip, holiday gift ideas, or information, be sure to enjoy a great day at the rivers, and let’s remember, “Leave No Trace”.
Karl and Karen Ekberg are co-owners of Chattooga River Fly Shop, located at 6832-A Highlands Hwy, Mountain Rest, SC 29664. Give them a call at (864) 638-2806 and visit their website at www.chattoogariverflyshop.com.