By Karl Ekberg
As we prepare for the spring hatches here at Chattooga River Fly Shop, February has graced us with some spring weather, and very heavy rains. We are sure that Old Man Winter still has a little cold weather left in store for us here in the South, especially having received snow this February. Although we may not receive any snow in March, the temperatures will surely dip below freezing, and our winter fishing techniques, will have to be in place. Low and slow, with nymph rigs, will be the trick, along with slower retrievals of steamers.
As spring pushes winter to the back burner for another year, spring rains and the warmer breezes from the south and west warm our days. The water temperatures of the rivers start to rise from the mid 30’s, stay in the mid 40’s and climb into the 50’s and 60’s during the day, which makes a day of wading a delight. As the waters start their warming trend, the first emergence of the mayflies and caddis start to appear on the rivers. As everyone enjoys the “top water” dry fly fishing, let’s remember, there are a lot more fish feeding on nymphs and emergers “down under”. Fishing a tandem rig with a nymph and an emerger, while awaiting the hatch, will be very productive. Fishing these tandem rigs, a cast up stream and mend the line for a “dead drift” is key. After the flies have drifted past your stance on the river, let them “swing” down-stream, and let your line straighten which allows the flies to rise to the surface, as the naturals do. Fishing flies on the “swing” is very productive, and will reward you greatly. Once seeing a few of these flies in the air and a few rises, switch to a dry fly and drift your fly to these rising fish.
Let’s not forget that streamer fishing is still very productive as well. Lately, with the colder water temperatures and higher water conditions, sink tips or weight pinched on to the leader has been necessary to keep the streamers down in the water column. Many large fish have been caught in the delayed harvest sections of both the Chattooga and Chauga Rivers using these on the dead drift & twitch technique, and by striping the streamers back through the pools and seams. As the water temperatures rise and water levels decrease, floating lines will be adequate.
We have great fly tying materials, whether you are tying for trout, bass, or pan fish, we have a wide array of materials to do the trick. We offer hands on, one-on-one fly tying classes to help you along in your journey of tying, here at the Fly Shop. You will receive expert advise on what to tie, when to fish the bug you are tying, and other tips and techniques. We look forward to seeing everyone out on the rivers, and let’s remember to “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 see their website at www.chattoogariverflyshop.com.