Feb. 16, 2024
Despite some stocking of trout, the fishing is still not great, so what do you do? Tie flies of course. Winter is for fly tying. In that vein, I am holding a free fly tying session at my home on Wednesday Feb. 21 at 6:00 p.m. Some expert tiers have signed up and some not so expert ones too. I am saving 2 spots for beginners who I will be helping. The 2 beginners will not have to bring anything but a desire to learn, I will provide all the rest. Space is very limited, so contact me via phone, e mail, facebook, carrier pigeon, etc. to sign up. Different people will be tying various flies so you can watch or tie as you wish. Other than beginners, It is byobvm (bring your own beverage and vise and materials). Here is a chance to learn something about fly tying from other people or just come and tie what you want around other tiers.
December 26, 2023
Fish were stocked on the Lower Saluda on December 8 and are being picked up by anglers in the 8-10 inch range using perdigon nymphs and streamers. So far by all accounts, the fish are skinny but better than nothing. Hopefully they will continue the past growth rate of an inch per month.
November 8, 2023
Many people ask me, “where are the trout?“ The answer is death and dissolved oxygen. Death sounds macabre right? What does it mean. The Saluda is not the best trout habitat. It is an artificial habitat for trout created by the outflow from the Lake Murray dam. Without the dam and its tail waters, there would be no trout fishing in the Saluda. The life of a trout in the Saluda is perilous. So perilous that the mortality rate is 98%, you read that correctly 98%. For example, if DNR stocks 50,000 trout in a year, only 1,000 would survive to the next year. What causes such a high mortality rate? There are several reasons, none of which I am going to discuss here. Suffice it to say that very few trout survive from year to year. Enough about death, now what about dissolved oxygen. Trout need colder water and higher levels of dissolved oxygen than warm water species such as bass, sunfish, etc. The primary factor in dissolved oxygen in the Saluda is the water drawn from the lake. Most of the water drawn by the turbines is from the bottom of the lake, so the amount of oxygen in the water at the bottom of the lake where the turbines draw from, will for all intents and purposes, determine the dissolved oxygen levels in the Saluda. During summer and fall, the water at the top of the lake is higher in dissolved oxygen than the water at the bottom of the lake. During the winter, usually sometime in December, the lake “turns over,” and the more oxygenated water works its way to the bottom of the lake. The layering process is called thermocline. DNR does not want to stock trout just to have them die immediately, so DNR waits until the lake turns over and the more oxygenated water is at the bottom where the turbines draw the water to pump into the Saluda. A low survival rate and dissolved oxygen deficits mean that from summer to December are the slow times.
September 13, 2023
While I was on the water tonight, I saw a nice light cahill hatch sizes 14-18. No rising fish but nice to see some good insect activity, as that is one of the indications of a healthy river.
September 4, 2023
Recently a man emailed me and said he wanted a "newbie appointment," his words not mine. We found a mutually agreeable time and met and talked for a while and went over some of his questions. Then later that week I had an initial fly tying lesson with another beginner. Some people in the fly fishing business don't like beginners, they ask too may questions and frequently don't buy enough to compensate for the disproportionate time spent, plus often they require more patience. I don't mind beginners and actually help quite a few. I guess after working with semi-interested Boy Scouts on their fly fishing/tying merit badges when my son was a Scout prepares you for beginners. Genuinely interested people who are teachable are fun to work with.
August 24, 2023
"Reel with Purpose" - sounds like a fishing charity doesn't it? Actually its is a technique I use just about every time I trout fish or striper fish, especially when using a streamer. So what I do is when I am about to reel in my line to quit fishing or just move to another place and I have too much line out to just let it drag while I move or leave (see the July 8, 2023 post), I intentionally reel the line in moving the fly and stopping the fly while moving my finger back and forth to evenly distribute the line and leader on my reel. In other words I reel with the purpose of catching a fish while I am reeling the line, I don't just reel quickly and mindlessly but with the intention of catching a fish and being ready to do so. Does it work all the time? No, only about 5% of the time, but I did catch a 20 pound striper 2 years ago while doing this. My friend also caught a nice 28 inch striper 2 years ago doing the same thing on his last cast. It also worked tonight. I usually just point the rod tip and line straight down with the rod tip almost touching the water. However, tonight I did that for a while and then held up the rod tip to about a 75 degree angle and kept reeling. Whether it was the reeling action alone or the reeling and changing of depth in the water, I don't know, but it was more than the 22 inch striper could stand, and s/he ate my size 4 Gervais Gray and kept me from getting skunked. So instead of just mindlessly reeling in your fly, reel with purpose.
August 22, 2023
Striper season is over right? Try telling that to my friend Mark. We went fishing, his first time striper fishing and certainly his first time fishing with a spey rod. He used my TFO Deer Creek 13'0 7 wt with a 2.5 foot t10/ 7.5 foot intermediate tip. First we tried the fly he tied (his first fly) but no luck. It was fun, however to watch him casting a size 2 conehead fly about 60 feet on his first outing. About 8:40 we moved then switched to a purple and black rainbow blingmaster. About 10 minutes later he hooked a nice striper in strong current and had a great fight but broke it off when he had about 15 feet of line outside the tip. How do I know it was a striper you ask? Well if you have caught many nice stripers, you know usually there is a hard hit, then strong runs and while the fish is running and you are frantically trying to get the excess running line on the reel, the rod moves up and down noticeably; I like to call it the "whump, whump." No jumping but a lot of strong runs before you even get close to seeing the fish, especially at night. And it takes a big fish to break 15 pound Rio Fluoro 0x tippet. Does he wish he caught it, do I wish he caught it? Yes, but we still had fun, and he had the surreal experience of wet wading and being cold when the air temperature was 90 and doing everything in the dark. Give it a try, there are still a few stripers to caught up and down the Saluda and some big ones and my striper rods, reels lines and tippet are still on sale at 25% off.
August 9, 2023
Stripers and whiskers.
Fished below the zoo last night with my TFO 13'0 7 wt spey rod. Started around 7:35. Started with gray and white hairy legged blingmaster and then switched to chartreuse hairy legged blingmaster, no hits. Around 8:05 added lots of 0x Rio fluro tippet and switched to black hairy legged blingmaster. At 8:21 hooked a nice striper in the strong current, fought if for a while and it slipped the hook. At 8:28 hooked and landed 24 inch striper. At about 8:45 I hooked and landed a 20 incher. Both were on a black hairy legged blingmaster.
That's the stripers, now for the whiskers . At about 9:15, I hooked and landed about an 18 inch catfish on the same fly. Once again the striper action was hot for about 30 minutes. Unfortunately, I spent too much of that time pulling fish up against the strong current and getting my hooks out of their mouths, since the hook went in one side of the mouth and out the other. Not bending down your barbs means you land more stripers, but it is much harder to get the hook out. Take your choice, but you should always bend the barb down on the hooks for trout.
August 3, 2023
There are still stripers around to be caught, but I have been having trouble finding them. Not sure what the issue is, could be that water levels are dropping right during evening fishing (some of my friends swear that they do not catch as many fish when the water is falling), could be over fishing on the river walk (that is what another friend says). For what ever reason, it's slow and the weather is hot, so it is a good time to wet wade. I have wet waded a couple of nights and found it to be comfortable, wet but comfortable. Took a friend fishing tonight and caught a nice 16 inch rainbow on a black and green hairy legged blingmaster. Be careful as the water has been hovering between 1550 and 1400 cfs which is a little high for wading, so use a wading staff even if you are wet wading.
July 18, 2023
Plenty of time to catch stripers as more move up in the Saluda to escape the heat.
July 11, 2023
If you read my post of July 8 about leaving your fly in the water, here is an update. Last night I took the 16 year old grandson of a friend of mine fishing. He was using a 7 weight spey rod for the second time and he was casting size 1 flies 70 feet - see what a spey rod can do for you. Well we tried for about an hour and a half with no hits or any action. I switched to a black blingmaster and told him we were going to move to the head of the pool and to leave about 25 feet of line and leader and fly in the water while we moved. Defying all odds, as we were wading upstream against 1420 cfs, he yells “Mr. Butler I’ve got a fish.” Despite the strong current and with a 23 inch striper on the other end, after an epic battle, I grabbed the line and hand wound it in. Living proof of the maxim “ keep your line in the water.”
July 8, 2023
So, here's the first rule, you cannot catch a fish unless your fly is in the water. Here is the first corollary to the rule, the longer you have your fly in the water, the greater the likelihood you'll catch a fish. Here is the second corollary to the rule, you should figure out how to keep your fly in the water as long as possible. This does not mean that you should keep your fly in the water if doing so may cause you to get hurt, break your rod, or unnecessarily distract you. I am guessing none of us liked logic class, so why all the talk about rules and corollaries. Last night while I was fishing, there was a little action in that there were a few half-hearted strikes but that's about all. I'm not sure if it was the front moving through or what, but it wasn't like normal striper fishing where you worry more about the fish pulling the rod out of your hand than just tapping the fly. I was getting ready to pack up and wade back in and call it a night. It has always been my practice that when I am doing things that allow me to keep the fly in the water, I do that. While I was getting out my headlamp, I left my fly in the water with about 15 feet of line out. Just as I had gotten my Fishpond waterproof pack unzipped and found my headlamp, the rod bent and line started flying out. I finished putting on my headlamp and started fighting the fish. It was a good fish, so I had to change the angle of the rod several times to put pressure on the fish. I finally landed it, and it was a nice 24 inch striper. Now for rule #2. Whenever you catch a fish, you need to remember what you were doing, rinse and repeat. While I was moving upstream, I did as I told my nephews, I left the fly in the water while I was walking, and landed a not so nice striper-a 10 incher. There you are, two rules that may help you land fish when nothing else is working.
June 28, 2023
Water levels fluctuating between 800-1120 cfs. If you are wading at 1120 cfs without a wading staff, use a rod you don't love too much, wear your swim trunks, and hope for the best. Well striper activity is picking up in the catch and release section of the Saluda. Picked up 6 last night, none over 22 inches but who cares, a 20 inch striper in strong current on a fly rod is still a blast. Even split, 2 each on salt slumpbuster, garner's white trash baitfish and articulated black and chartreuse hairy legged blingmaster. Activity was from 8-9. Try different retrieves. 2 were caught while letting the line out, 1 while holding the fly in the current for 30 seconds and the other 3 with your normal retrieve upstream. All 6 were caught between 40 to 100 feet downstream
June 21, 2023
Rain and thunderstorms and high water levels. What's a fly fisher supposed to do when it's the heart of striper season and you can't fish. Here are a few suggestions. Clean your fly line. Honestly when is the last time you cleaned your fly line? A clean line casts easier, shoots farther, lasts longer and floats better. You can strip off 30-50 feet of line in a sink with some dish soap in it, swish it around in the sink, rinse it off and then reel it back on to your reel while letting it run through an old rag. Then treat the line with line coditioner. Replace your leader and or tippet. Who wants to lose a nice fish for $5. Gently sand your cork grip with fine sandpaper. Sharpen your hooks. If you are not using a Gamakatsu or Kona hook, it's probably not sharp enough. Check your headlamps.
June 15, 2023
Just a reminder, this is the last day you can attempt to catch stripers in the Congaree or the Broad. If you catch one in the Congaree or Broad, you must release. You may still attempt to catch stripers in the Lower Saluda, but you must release it. Some let me simplify this, you can only fish for stripers in the Saluda and if you catch one you must release it.
June 5, 2023
Well just when you think it will be a while before action picks up in the, this comes along. Not very often and hardly ever on a spey rod. I know some of you wonder "does he catch anything?" "Why doesn't he post pictures?" I usually fish alone, just as I did last night, and I usually don't even try to take a picture if it is less than a 24 inch striper. This fish was different, it peeled off 149 feet of running line, spey head, mow tip and leader and then 100 yards of 30 lb backing, all the while scorching my hand. After finally stopping it, I called my friend and neighbor Ron Tryon at about 9:35, and he came out in the river in the dark and filmed the final struggle, landing and release. Around 34 inches and heavier than my 20 lb dumbbell. Caught it on the Fly South original black hairy legged blingmaster tied on a size 1 Kona Xtra strong stinger hook. To view a video of the release of the beast go to my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/flysouthsc/videos/263938812982839
June 5, 2023
Remember as of June 15, you cannot attempt to catch stripers in the Congaree, and it is catch and release only in the Saluda. We have lots of 8 weight rods, reels, lines, tippet, leaders and striper flies in stock and ready to go. So get ready for the harmonic convergence - Father’s Day and Striper Season on the Saluda. As a Father’s Day Special, buy a striper rod and reel from Fly South and get an 8 weight Rio Mainstream Fly line for FREE (a $39.99 value). Heck, I will throw in the backing for free. We have the largest selection of 8 weight rods and reels in the area.
June 3, 2023
Water level on Saluda has stabilized around 1060 cfs which is at the upper edge of wadeable levels. While most activity is still in Congaree and Broad Rivers, catchable numbers of stripers have moved into the catch and release section of the Saluda. The flies of choice are a Galloup's ... dungeon and a black hairy legged blingmaster.
May 29, 2023
Water level has dropped in Saluda and is holding steady around 1,050 cfs. Striper action is slowly picking up in the Saluda. Tonight I was once again fishing a the lower section of the Saluda close to where the Broad comes in. Most action still seems to be in the Congaree as most of the boats are staying downstream which is fine with me. I was using my TFO Deer Creek 7 weight 13 foot spey rod with 2.5 foot sinking and 7.5 foot floating tip. Tried several different types and colors of flies. Finally after fishing for over an hour with no success, around 8:25 things started to heat up just a little. Had one fish take the articulated hairy legged blingmaster and jump about 3 feet out of the water, not sure what it was since it threw the hook but it could have been a trout. Had another hit and then landed a schoolie, all in about 20 minutes. If you read my old fishing reports, you will see I repeatedly say that usually there is about a 30 minute when the action picks up markedly, you have to be ready for it and make the most of it. The issue is when does it occur. If I knew I wouldn't be doing this.
May 23, 2023
Water level in the Saluda is holding steady around 1950 cfs. While most of the action is still in the Congaree and Broad, the stripers are moving up the Saluda slowly. Stripers are being taken on the fly at the Millrace and pop up hole,
May 16, 2023
Harbinger, precursor, forerunner, call it what you want. As you know (if you have been reading) I have been fishing for stripers below the zoo and thus far have caught nothing, nada, zilch, zippo. Well last night I changed that, I caught a striper - just one, an 18 incher, not worth a picture. I know, I have heard it too - so and so caught 30 at Candi Lane (probably on a spinning rod), so and so caught 10 at Saluda Shoals, x caught 15 below the dam. I can only say what I have done, and it means stripers can now be caught on a fly in the lower Saluda. More will come, they always do, it's just a matter of how many and when. So if you have been waiting, here you go, if I can do it so can you. We have lots of 8 weight rods, reels and lines, leaders and tippet for stripers in stock and flies. BTW what fly was I using on my 13 foot TFO 7 weight spey rod, watch the video - a Fly South original, the articulated beastmaster. Plus note the loop in front of the fly, it allows more action than the clinch (improved or otherwise) knot - no extra charge for that tidbit.
May 13, 2023
Striper action is still slow in the Saluda with most action still being in the Congaree and Broad. Some nice holdover trout are being caught in the catch and release section on copper johns and caddis pupae.
May 4, 2023
Well the river finally dropped from 10,000 to about 1,450 cfs which still a little high to wade in some areas. Some trout are being caught in the catch and release area on copper johns and black wooly buggers (always thought you could catch almost anything including a coyote on a wooly bugger) with some holdover fish but not in the numbers as in past years. Went striper fishing below the zoo hoping against hope the dropping water would not put the fish off. Got skunked again. I am going to tell you when I do good and when I do bad. Talked to a spin fishermen who said he did well when the water was higher and caught fish below the zoo and at Candi Lane on white soft baits, so fish are moving into the lower parts of the Saluda and numbers should increase. Some stripers are still being caught in good numbers at Gervais Street bridge.
April 22, 2023
Last night I fished the very lowest part of the Saluda below the zoo. I used my TFO Deer Creek 13.5 foot 8 weight spey rod with 10 foot t11 tip. No hits. I know it is still early for the majority of stripers, but thought I would try anyway. While I was fishing, a jon boat pulled up and anchored on the other side of the river and about 50 feet down from me and started fishing with his spinning rod. I was swinging flies but also letting out about 130 feet of line and stripping it back in. He cast across the river and downstream from me and hooked my line; I had to tell him he did. Finally he reels his line almost all the way back in and my line is free. No apology. As Sergeant Joe Friday would say on Dragnet "Just the facts sir." So why I am telling you this. Well the number of fishermen wading and using boats has greatly increased over just the past few years and with it more incidents like this. So my question is what should the protocol be when wading fishermen and fishermen in jet boat, motor boats, kayaks, rafts, etc. intersect? Go to my facebook page and weigh in. Please be civil, after all in the age of PETA and changing water management, all fishermen, kayakers, etc. need to stick together.
April 21, 2023
Waters is fluctuating between 2,000 - 2,200 cfs in the Saluda. Striper action is still slow in the Saluda and mostly centered in the Congaree around the 77 bridge and in the Broad. Unfortunately, live bait (not mine) seems to be the choice of the stripers. It is time to gear up for stripers now, as all they will do is move upstream. Lots of flies leaders, lines, rods and reels in stock with a whole bunch of new trout flies just in. If you are in the market for a Fishpond vest or pack, even a waterproof bag, then we are here to help you. Fishpond is not inexpensive but it is not cheap, it is well made and priced fairly. If you have ever taken a swim and had to later empty your entire vest or bag and then still have hundreds of dollars worth of flies rust like I did, then the Fishpond submersible collection is the answer https://fishpondusa.com/collections/submersible. Wade with confidence with the submersible products (especially if you use a wading staff like I suggest) in the sure knowledge that if you keep the submersible properly sealed, your stuff is safe even if you place last in the 50 meter freestyle.
April 12, 2023
Are we ready for striper season here at Fly South? What do you think? Look at the picture on the left. We have all kinds of flies that you can actually cast on an 8 weight rod without hurting yourself and that catch fish on the Congaree and Saluda. We have Rio lines, floating and sinking for stripers and striper leaders and tippet. Striper reels and more reels. Unlike your trout reel which usually does not need to have a good drag, your striper reel needs a good drag. Imagine a 10 pound fish in strong current running downstream peeling off line. Don't cheap out on your striper reel. You really need to spend at least $120 to get a good striper reel that has a good drag and holds enough backing for those long runs downstream. We have TFO bvk sd reels, TFO ntr reels, TFO nxt black label reels, Redington Rise reels, Redington Behemoth reels and Redington Run reels in striper size. We also have 6 models of 7 and 8 weight rods to choose from including a 7 weight 12'6" spey rod you can cast. Rods run from $160 up to $349. Most places around here only have one or two 8 weight rods, and you don't get to cast them, and you certainly don't get to cast a spey rod if anyone around here has one. You can walk in cast a rod and leave with an outfit you can fish for stripers with the next day. Want to tie your own striper flies, you can do that, and we can help. We have all types of hooks, materials, flash, eyes, cones, and we will even help you get started.
April 11, 2023
Not to pat myself on the back, but if you are new to striper fishing and want to read some down to earth real tips, then I suggest you read through all all the fishing reports including the continued ones (Cont. 1,2,3). These are my experiences going back to 2019 - the things I did right and the things I did wrong. It may be a little stream of consciousness but I think you will find it helpful.
April 8, 2023
A report from a friend. "Water is high from rain and off color especially below construction sites. Congaree was around 6,900 cfs which is above safe wading range. Some stripers were seen feeding on or below surface at Gervais Street bridge and birds were active. What they were actually feeding on is a different story. Many sightings but no success." Getting near spawning time which makes fishing more difficult at least for a little while. If you have any fishing reports, feel free to contact me with any details you are willing to share.
April 2, 2023
Saluda River is holding steady at 1720 cfs which is a little high for wading. Fishing is picking up despite turbidity problems in the Lower Saluda. Trout are being caught in increasing numbers in the catch and release section with a few nice holdovers like we used to have before the no oxygen numbers (not low but no) in September 2020. Size 12 copper johns have been the fly of choice. As to stripers there is good action below the I 77 bridge even down to Sandy Run with the small males leading the way and some over 30 inch fish being caught. Chartreuse and white clouser, lunch box fly and gamechangers (tm) producing.
March 28, 2023
I have been affiliated with Saluda TU since I started fly fishing in 1992. During that time, in my personal capacity, and as the owner of Fly South since 1996, I have donated and solicited thousands of dollars worth of stuff to SRTU. Some businesses donate 1-3% of their net profits to charity. Fly South will donate prizes equal to 10% of its gross sales between now and April 21 to the SRTU banquet. So if SRTU members spend $500, Fly South will donate gifts with a value equal to $50; $1,000 = $100; $1,500 = $150; $2,000 = you get the picture. The SRTU Banquet is April 28 from 6:30 - 10:00 p.m. here is the link
March 28, 2023
Just in time for tying flies for the upcoming trout and striper season, a new shipment of fly tying stuff from Hareline, Wapsi and Montana Fly. Bucktails, ostrich herl. Hooks by Gamakatsu, Lightning Strike, Kona, Tiemco from size 22 to size 4/0. Eyes - dumbbell, bead chain, mirage 3d stick on eyes. Beads - tungsten and tungsten slotted in all sizes. Rabbit strips and pine squirrel zonker strips in regular and mini. Marabou and other stuff you have to see to want.
March 23, 2023
Water is still low but trout fishing is still slow. Stripers are moving up and are being caught in the upper reaches of the Congaree.
March 22, 2023
As one of the few authorized Rio dealers in Columbia, we have access to all Rio lines including specialty lines and direct access to the Rio inventory records to see what is available and what is out of stock. If you want any Rio line, leader or tippet, just let us know and we can get it.
March 21, 2023
Water is still low and clearing after periodic rain. A few stockers are being taken on size 10 gray wet fly fished dead drift.
March 17, 2023
A few rising fish spotted, not sure what was hatching but maybe spring has sprung.
March 5, 2023
Still not a lot stocking being done, so action is slow. Some sz 24 gray midges and sz 16 brown caddis were hatching pm, but no rising fish
December 20, 2022
DNR stocked some fishable trout in the Lower Saluda. Not many holdover fish being caught. Streamers are a good bet. Cover some water and when you catch a fish stay there a while, because if there is one stocker there are probably others. As conditions stabilize, more fish will be stocked.
November 12, 2022
Winter doldrums (even if it is still fall). I guess that is what it is. People are calling me and texting me and e mailing me asking: "Is anyone catching anything around here?" My answer, "Not really." Striper season is essentially over. It has been a long time since trout were stocked and with the mortality rate for trout so high with striper predation, poaching, high water temperatures and low oxygen, the numbers of trout are at the lowest point of the year. Everyone is waiting for the thermocline in the lake to turn over, so DNR can stock hopefully sometime in December as in years past. So if you are not doing well on the Saluda don't feel bad, many people are in the same driftboat. What can you do? Go to the mountains or the coast, learn to tie flies and start tying for when things pick up, order the fly tying materials you need i.e. want, work on your casting, get your gear ready, spend time with your fishing widow, etc. If you want to learn to tie flies, perdigon trout patterns are a great place to start. There are not a lot of materials, the techniques are not complicated, the uv glue covers up a lot of mistakes, and the perdigon flies catch fish everywhere including the Saluda.
September 3, 2022
There are still a few stripers to be caught, focus on places with current dropping into deeper water. Black hairy legged blingmaster and size 4-6 purple and whit