February on the Chattooga

By Karl Ekberg

The Atlanta Fly Fishing Show, the first weekend of the month, is an awesome place to see a tremendous amount of gear and flies and gather a tremendous amount of information. The folks at these shows, along with us, have a wealth of knowledge to assist everyone from rod selections for any type of fish which one may target. Then we need to add a fly reel and fly line, which there are many to choose from as well. One huge word of advice: This purchase does not need to cost thousands of dollars. There are many great deals out there but purchasing a thousand dollar fly rod does not catch more fish.

Now, there are great fly lines, and with most all of the companies, a top-end fly line is over a hundred dollars. In fly reels, of which there are so many out there, a good one, between one to two hundred dollars, will totally be sufficient for trout waters around here. Higher-end reels with more stopping power, better drag systems, will cost more when targeting larger fish species. Just remember that more money does not directly equal more fish.

The month of January was extremely kind in the rain department for an area in desperate need of filling the water table back up. Rains entering the area every three to five days with torrential amounts of precipitation have brought river levels, at times, above safe zones and slower to recede now that the region has received a much needed refresh.

Temperatures have been on the normal winter side of things as well. After these torrents of rain, below freezing, nightly temperatures and day-time highs in the forties have been the norm. Water temperatures have been from the high thirties to low forties for most of the month, meaning mid-day fishing has been most productive. Following the sun along the river throughout the day, fishing is most productive during the colder months of the year as well. Heavy weighted nymph rigs and streamers are the most productive. Remember that the bottom of the river is where the money (fish) is this time of year.

A huge event, “Save the 22”, is at the Anderson (SC) Civic Center at 5:30pm on February 16. This event put on by WLS (WHENLIFESUCKS.ORG) is to help Veterans, and 100% of the proceeds go to the program that help veterans heal from trauma and to live well. We are blessed to be a part of helping individuals get out on the rivers fly fishing with this great organization. Tickets are available here at the Fly Shop or through the organization.

A second event, just for ladies, through the SCWF (South Carolina Wildlife Federation), is a POWR+ Women’s Fly Fishing Day, on February 23, from 9:00am to 3:00pm. This event is for women to join like-minded outdoors women and take part in a fly fishing experience in Upstate South Carolina. The event is designed for women to connect with each other and feel confident on the water. It’s a full day of learning the basics and being out on the river understanding how to catch trout with us. Registration is through the South Carolina Wildlife Federation website.

As we think about the winter cold, we realize that there is little time before the warmer days of spring arrive, and we will be casting dry flies to rising fish. Let’s remember, while we are in the great outdoors, to bring back a little more than we walked in with, and “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.