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During a recent trip to Clemson, South Carolina, I had the opportunity to fish for trout in two different places over a period of two days. The first day my partner and I fished the Chattooga River, a beautiful trout stream that forms the South Carolina/Georgia border for part of its length. The stream is about 50 yards wide where we accessed it. We started the day by driving from Clemson to the village of Mountain Rest, where we stopped at the Chattooga River Fly Shop (www.chattoogariverflyshop.com). The folks there offered lots of valuable advice, including directions to the parking area, which direction to fish from there, and which side of the river to walk along, the Georgia side or the South Carolina side. (Answer: the Georgia side. Because of a reciprocal relationship between the states, anglers can fish either side of this stream with a license from either state.)
The stream in that area flows along the base of some impressive mountains. Water volume was moderate and the rocks werent slippery, which made the wading easy. In the morning, we fished nymphs with a few strikes, but the real event started with a hatch about 2 p.m. Once the trout started rising, we found them eager but not stupid. I had as many refusals as I did takes. Over the next hour and a half, I caught six rainbows measuring eight to 12 inches, plus a beautiful eastern brook trout. The rainbows appeared to be hatchery releases, but they took a dry fly readily and fought in the current as though they had been there for some time.
This section of river has special regulations for trout (one-hook artificial lures only and no harvest November 1 to May 14), so its attractive to fly fishermen. Everyone we met was cordial and helpful, not to mention fairly proud of their little river. Everyone gave other anglers plenty of room to fish. The only time I saw anyone other than my partner was walking along the trail.
The second day my partner and I fished Lake Jocassee with Sam Jones of Jocassee Charters (www.jocasseecharters.com). Jocassee is a deep, 7,500- acre hydroelectric reservoir that is noted for trophy trout. The only problem is that the trout stay pretty deep, making fly fishing impossible. The equipment provided by Sam included seven-foot rods with Ambassador 5600 and 6600 reels, which we used to troll salmon lures from downriggers. Alas, when in Rome, I guess you have to fish like a Roman. And that is what we did: we booked a half-day charter over the phone. Sam met us the next morning at Devils Fork River State Park boat launch with his 22- foot Crest pontoon boat and we headed out on a chilly morning.
At that time of year, Sam said the fish were 30 to 50 feet deep. The key was to troll the lures slowly, he said. The fishing style reminded me of saltwater trolling for salmon off the coast of British Columbia or Alaska. Importantly, he said the fish go deeper as the season progresses, making it increasingly difficult to release live fish. They die from being hauled up from the deep, he said, noting that the regulations change with the season to encourage fishermen to keep the first three fish they catch then stop fishing.
My partner and I each caught rainbows and brown trout (about eight fish per person) in the half day. The rainbows were thick fish up to about 22 inches in length, and the browns were bright and beautiful, up to 20 inches. The lake record for browns is over 19 pounds, so our catch didnt approach the potential of the place. With only half a day on the water, we were well satisfied with the results.
In truth, neither of the places we fished in South Carolina were locations youd visit for a week just for the fishing. Either (or both) are pleasant diversions, however, when you are in the area. If you are the type who wants to put a pin in every state with a trout fishery, these are respectable fishing spots to consider. Enjoy!