And in South Carolina, there's no better place for fly fishing than the Chattooga River. The trout bite is definitely picking up, and browns, rainbows and even some brook trout are on the bite, according to Karl Ekberg, owner of the Chattooga River Fly Shop in Mountain Rest.
"You can catch fish from Burrells Ford down through the gorge area right now," said Ekberg (864-638-2806). "If you want to catch the wild browns, you should fish above Burrells Ford up to the Ellicott Rock area. And don't forget the bridge; (SCDNR) is still stocking, and the fish are ranging between 16 and 18 inches."
Stream trout can be a little more finicky than their finned cousins in the rivers and lakes, but Chattooga trout seem to be hitting blue-winged olives lately. Anything from a parachute blue-winged olive dry fly to blue-winged olive nymphs seem to do the trick.
"I was fishing a parachute blue-winged olive dry, size 20, and did well the other day," Ekberg said. "The blue-winged olive nymphs and size 18 to 20 beadhead pheasant tails are the size to go with. The blue-winged olives stay in the 18 to 20 size range, and I did pick up some fish on a size 14 October caddis recently. We even swing some size 12 red fox squirrel soft hackles and caught fish. My guess is when we get the next push after the front, we'll see them start hatching and you can use 12 and 14 size orange stimulators."
Milder August temperatures coupled with heavy rains have kept the river's level above average; the flow is running at about 100 feet per second. That's really good for this time of year; Ekberg said he's seen the river flowing as slow as 30 feet per second this time of year.
"This is the best condition I've seen the river in years," Ekberg said. "The cooler August helped us out tremendously. Even in July, the river didn't go down as we've seen in the past. The rain has tremendously helped all through the summer, and that equates to better fishing this fall."
If you can't make it to the river anytime soon, Ekberg said you definitely need to be around during the first week of November. The DNR stocks heavily during that time and the fishing is as good as it gets."The first couple weeks of November, the river's on fire," he said. "They put a ton of fish in the river and the fishing is phenomenal."