The S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ Angler Recognition Program may be less than two months old, but guide Sam Jones of Jocassee Charters has already put several of his client’s names on the list with trophy brown trout – at least 5 pounds or 20 inches – from the Upstate mountain lake. 

“It sort of caught me off guard a week or so ago,” said Jones (864-280-9056). “I had a client catch a brown trout over 7 pounds, and a few hours after the trip, it hit me that that fish would qualify for a (citation), I called my customer but he’d already dressed the fish out.”

Jones has not been catching the numbers of smaller brown and rainbow trout that are typical of Jocassee through the summer, but the quality of fish has been outstanding and looks to continue.

“The big browns are starting to orient over structure like standing timber around the edges of the main lake,” he said. “We’re catching them trolling about half live shiners and half spoons behind the downriggers, but most of the fish are preferring the live bait in about 75 to 90 feet of water. We’re also catching some big rainbows out in the middle of the lake.”

To make sure his clients get recognition for their big fish, Jones keeps applications for citations on his boat. If fishermen want to release their fish, Jones can take the necessary measurements and photo; if the fishermen want to keep their fish, they can take them to certified scales for their official weight.

“I really like this Angler Recognition Program, and I’m going to say my clients have got a real good shot at catching a citation brown trout right now,” said Jones. “I’ve got two fish on the list myself from just being out here scouting or fun fishing. The big browns start getting active, and that will go on through the fall.”