Transition Time

Stephen Adams from Macon GA on a Chattooga Guided Trip

By Karl Ekberg

As spring pushes winter to the back burner for another year here at Chattooga River Fly Shop, spring rains and the warmer breezes from the south and west warm our days. The water temperatures of the rivers start to rise and stay in the mid 40’s and climb into the 50’s during the day, which makes a day of wading a delight. As the waters start their warming trend, the first emergence of the may flies and caddis start to appear on the rivers.

February was kind in the rain and temperature categories, as temperatures were a little warmer than normal then took a dip down below average as we wrote this article. As far as rainfall, the rivers have been about average for winter time fishing with some big rain events filling the water table nicely.

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, a mend of the line, and a “dead drift” is key. At times depending on the speed of the water, which is being fished, a couple mends are necessary. Remember there is no correct number of mends, only to make sure the flies are dead drifting is happening.

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. Dry dropper rigs will be a great way to fish as well, with either the nymphs or emergers of the hatching bugs delicately drifting along.

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 stripping the streamers back through the pools and seams. As the water temperatures rise and water levels decrease, floating lines will be adequate.

As Spring emerges, so do many delicate plants along the riverside and the trek to the favorite fishing spot on the creeks, rivers, and streams. Staying on paths and established trails helps to maintain the existence of these plants, while it’s okay taking pictures and being adventurous, let’s also remember about hiking off the beaten path and be careful of what is being stepped on. Also let’s everyone take out a little more than we walked into the outdoors with and “Leave No Trace,” as we need the outdoors for generations to come.

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