Karl Ekberg, who owns the Chattooga River Fly Shop in Mountain Rest, looked forward to this past Saturday’s opening of delayed-harvest trout fishing on a handful of Upstate streams the way a lot of hunters look forward to the opening of dove, duck or deer season.
“The delayed harvest areas of our local streams provide more than ample opportunity for anglers to catch fish,” said Ekberg (864-638-2806). “They become a very popular place to fish because the state stocks the area pretty heavily at the beginning of the season.”
Delayed-harvest regulations allow fishermen to catch-and-release trout on single-hook, artificial lures on a handful of streams, including sections of the Chattooga River, Chauga River, Eastatoe River and a handful of smaller streams, from Nov. 1 through May 14. The rest of the year, those streams are managed by standard hatchery-supported regulations.
Thee Upstate’s Delayed Harvest Areas include from the SC 28 bridge on the Chattooga River upstream for 2.1 miles, from the Cassidy Bridge upstream for nearly 3 miles on the Chauga River, and from the backwaters of Lake Keowee upstream to Roy Jones Road (S.C. State Highway S-39-143) on the Eastatoe River in Pickens County. The areas are well marked with yellow signage.
The SCDNR stocks these sections of streams heavily so fishermen will have plenty of fish to catch. The agency has added streams to the delayed-harvest program after seeing the practice gainwide spread popularity in neighboring states, including Tennessee and North Carolina. The movement gained further momentum when several area trout and fly fishing clubs put in requests to have areas sanctioned.
"Delayed harvest started as an experiment in the early 2000s on the Chattooga River on a 2-mile section of river starting at the state Route 28 Bridge," said Dan Rankin, an SCDNR fisheries biologist based in Clemson. "It was so popular that the State Legislature decided to add sections on the Chauga, Eastatoe Creek, a tributary that feeds Lake Keowee, and Howard Creek, a tributary of Lake Jocassee."