Winter Fishing In The South Carolina Mountains

By Karl Ekberg

The hustle and bustle of the Holiday season is now upon us. Crowded stores, busy streets, attending Christmas gatherings, and a little nip in the air, and we say, “Let’s go fly fishing? This is a great time of year to be out on the Chattooga or Chauga Rivers to find some solitude away from all the “hustle & bustle”, or make a little Holiday gathering amongst friends and family, and catch a few trout while you’re there.

The rivers of the South Carolina mountains have been heavily stocked now from the South Carolina DNR, and many thanks go out to the folks of the Walhalla Fish Hatchery! The Delayed Harvest areas are fishing extremely well, with many large fish being landed, on a wide variety of flies. The large Brook Trout, have beautiful spawning colors to them, the Rainbows have been in the 12”-16” average, with a few larger ones landed as well. The larger browns have been a great pleasure to catch as well, with a great fight to land them. Our guides are putting people on large fish, and taking great pictures to send them home with for bragging rights.

As winter arrives, so do the colder months of fishing for us here in the Southern Appalachians. Maybe a frosty covering of white blanketing snow across the river banks, possibly a 60 degree day full of sunshine, making us believe spring is near, or just the average temperature day. At any rate, whichever day you may venture to the rivers, the water temperatures have dropped to the mid to high 40’s, and it’s time to fish a little deeper in the runs and seams, as that’s where the warmer water for the trout are, especially if the water temperatures drop any further. At times of higher water conditions, a pinch of weight will be needed, to get your flies down to the holding fish.

Colder water temperatures, leads to the fish becoming a bit lethargic, and streamer fishing will need to be slower as well. Slowing down your strip and pauses will be the key to success. The use of a sink tip leader will keep the streamers down in the water column, especially while retrieving them, when the water is higher and the temperatures are colder.

If you’re looking for that special gift for the your Angler, we can help you with everything from gift certificates, guided trips, to all the flyfishing gear someone could possible want under the tree. We look forward to seeing everyone out on the rivers, stop by and see us Tuesday-Saturday 7am-5pm, and Sundays 7am-2pm. From all of us here at Chattooga River Fly Shop we want to wish everyone and their families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Karl Ekberg is the owner of Chattooga River Fly Shop, located at 6832A Highlands Hwy, in Mountain Rest, SC 29664. Give them a call at (864) 638-2806 or look them up on the web at