As far as springtime here in the South Carolina Mountains goes, this has to rank close to the top of the charts. The fishing has been spectacular throughout April and the outlook for May is looking great. River levels have been excellent, with just enough rain coming through the region to keep the water levels up, and wading levels good all month. As the weather warms throughout the month of May, the wet wading season will begin, and the waders can be hung up until the Fall.
The swing has been the best in the early part of the day, in using heavier lead flies with smaller soft-hackles trailing. Fishing the riffles will be very beneficial and finding pockets within them. This area of the river is where the majority of the bugs will start their emergence. Look for small areas of calm water located behind larger rocks or boulders within the riffles. Fish will hold in these areas and feed on bugs which drift into their zones, tumbling out of the faster moving waters.
Watching the water prior to casting, fish can be observed in the small pockets at times rising to adult dry flies of the caddis, mayflies, and stone flies. As the bugs have started their emergence to the top of the water to “hatch,” watch the slick water below the riffles for dimples or rings on the water surface. Slowly moving toward the rising fish will be crucial so not to startle them, which will send the fish to the depths, only to be seen at a later time. Casting, as well, has to be planned and thought out. Casts well above feeding fish, with careful mends, and long drifts, with longer leaders will have greater results in landing fish.
Another large emergence is of the oak worms. These fine little creatures are a tasty treat that even the largest of trout cannot pass up as they fall from the trees into the rivers. Casting imitations of these, into over-hanging bushes, and dead drifting them with a twitching technique will be very beneficial to a large day on the river. Anywhere you may find these worms dangling from their silk lines from the trees, do not hesitate to stop, watch the worm finally hit the water and see what happens!
The next process is to work your way into a good vantage point to make your cast to the fish which just ate the natural. Do not worry about a delicate cast; even a splat of the worm on the water will be just as effective, as they also fall out of the trees from far above. As the late spring temperatures rise, fishing the shady areas of the rivers will be essential, as the fish will move out of the high sun and warmer waters.
Join us on Saturday, June 3, for the Kid’s Fishing Rodeo at Burrell’s Ford Campground on the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River, sponsored by the Andrew Pickens Forest Office.
Let’s all remember “leave no trace.” Packing out with what you brought in is essential and bringing something back out, that someone else left behind, does not hurt either to keep our beautiful streams and rivers how they should be. Keeping them clean now means future generations will still be able to enjoy what we are enjoying now!
Enjoy the greater outdoors and we hope to see you out on the rivers.
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.