Everyone likes to be close to trout water. Unfortunately, not all of us are so lucky. As one who does not fall into the category of the most fortunate, I do have some options that allow me to scratch the fly-fishing itch occasionally. I am close enough to reach some of the western, North Carolina waters, but a few options are available for those of us living in Greenville County at the foothills of the mountains.
Many of you will recognize this river as the home of the Jones Gap State Park. It also has the distinction of being the first river protected under the Scenic Rivers Program in South Carolina. It is a cold, clear stream that is headwater of the Saluda River and encompasses the main tributary, Coldspring Branch.
This is a popular destination due to the natural beauty of the area, as well as one of the closest options for fly fishing. The stream has a natural, reproducing trout population. Although the park is pressured by heavy traffic from nearby Travelers Rest, SC and Greenville, SC, it still yields scrappy rainbows of 8 to 10 inches and the occasional 12-incher that would be considered a trophy for the stream.
I remember once when the famous Joe Humphreys of Pennsylvania was doing a Trout Unlimited clinic in the Greenville, SC, area and he was reported to have caught a trout exceeding 20 inches from the stream. Humphreys was a trout fishing author, teacher, legend and more. In addition to his trout fishing reputation, he was a world class wrestler in his younger days.
Downstream from the park headquarters, a “catch and release” section is restricted to a limited number of fishermen at any one time. Fishermen must sign in and out at a designated kiosk.
Needless to say, this fishery is best accessed on a weekday.
Tall Pines WMA
SCDNR acquired 1,757 acres of property in northern Greenville County in 2019 and I have spent a large number of hours there since that time. The property is home to two lakes, with the largest allowing easy access, and by far the best fishing.
The property provides hunting for several species of wildlife, and the largest pond provides excellent fishing for bass and bream. In addition, it is stocked with trout in the winter months and is also home to crappie. Although many anglers fish from the shoreline, the best opportunities are available to kayakers.
Early last spring, I had the opportunity to fish there and was rewarded with two slab crappies and two brown trout. In addition to the pond fishing opportunities, the acreage is bordered by approximately one mile of the South Saluda River that allows access for trout fishermen. Rainbow trout are the predominant species.
Upstream from the WMA, the South Saluda River runs parallel to Highway 276 for a mile or more and it is home to delayed harvest fishing, again primarily rainbow trout. This section was scheduled for restocking by the SCDNR on Feb. 6.
Other SC locations
South Carolina contains numerous great spots for fly fishing. A good resource for these is to Google an article by Jeff Samsel posted in 2010 that is still very relevant and provides information on six more excellent trout destinations in South Carolina.
Blue Lining update
As a supplement to a recent article that I wrote about Blue Lining, Tom Rosenbauer, noted fly fisherman and fly tyer, did a podcast sponsored by Orvis, with guest Ian Rutter. Rutter is the owner/guide of R&R Fly Fishing, in Townsend, Tenn. He specializes in fishing the small, remote streams and enjoys fishing off the beaten path.
Rosenbauer has some interesting tips and Rutter expanded the subject of Blue Lining.
Listen to the podcast at https://news.orvis.com/fly-fishing/podcast-tips-for-blue-lining-with-ian-rutter.
Many of South Carolina’s trout waters offer small areas to fish from the bank, but anglers can find more secluded waters by launching kayaks from these areas, when available. And even though trout are the most popular species, other fish like crappie are also present.