By Karl Ekberg
Excitement fills the air over the Chattooga and Chauga rivers for November. The helicopter has flown fish by the buckets, specially delivered from the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery, in Mountain Rest, South Carolina. We send special thanks to all the individuals at the Hatchery, to all the individuals from the US Forest Service, South Carolina DNR, and to the pilots flying the helicopter for two days in the river corridors. Now that the fish are swimming freely in the rivers, questions arise of where they were dropped. Heavy concentrations of fish are flown to the Delayed Harvest (DNR regulation explanation below) sections of both rivers, and into select locations outside of these areas.
“Starting November 1st through May 15, in the Delayed Harvest sections, the regulations are as follows from the SC DNR: All fish caught must be returned to the river immediately after being caught. It is unlawful to possess fish in these areas. It is also unlawful to use or possess any lure except single hook artificial only (no live bait). What is an artificial lure? 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 substitute for natural bait. Lures or fish eggs enhanced with scents or salts are not artificial lures. Artificially produced organic baits are not artificial lures.” All of this paragraph is directly quoted and can be found in the South Carolina Hunting and Fishing Guide produce by the SC DNR. There are always questions about what is and is not an “artificial lure”, if there are questions, please feel free to drop into our Fly Shop, and any of our staff will help out so that everyone is “legal” on the Delayed Harvest stretches of water.
Many fish are confused, after growing up at the hatchery, and now being free to roam endless miles of our free-stone rivers. Sometimes, it may take a few days to become acclimated with the new surrounds called home, prior to these trout starting to eat again. Other times, they start to feed immediately after being released from the chopper. Many forms of trick, treats, or techniques may be used to catch these fish. Dead-drifting, swinging, and streamer fishing can all be used in a given day, depending on the water conditions and the fish reactions. Usually a good variety of colors, sizes, types of flies, and different depths of water, is a great idea to have prior to heading out for the day.
We have all your needs here at our Fly Shop for a successful day out on the river. It is never too early to think about Christmas, just around the corner the holidays will be upon us. We hope to see everyone out on the rivers, and let’s all remember to practice “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.