Local striper flies, Rio tippet, leader lines and TFO/Redington rods/ reels in stock
December 6, 2022
Well the water is still high and we are all waiting on the lake to turn over and DNR to stock. In the meantime, Christmas is on its way. A few notes. Fly South has lots of flies, leaders, tippet, rubber nets, tools, rods, reels Fishpond vests and waterproof sling packs, and fly tying materials in stock. We sold out of all our TFO Blue Ribbon rods , but more are on the way. As one customer of mine who is an engineer said after casting several rods and buying the Blue Ribbon, "It punches well above its weight." Another customer who guided in Wyoming said he preferred the Blue Ribbon's feel to more expensive rods. This year for the first time, Fly South is selling a Saluda Trout Fly Selection. I talked to several perople who fish the Saluda and got their suggestions and added my own. The selection comes with 4 dry flies, 3 streamers, 5 nymphs, and a Redington WATERPROOF fly box ($14.99 value). The retail value is $40.77. The price is $31.99.
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 white clouser have been the best flies. Some trout being caught on sz 16 olive caddis emerger, just make sure to land your fish asap and revive them as quickly as possible.
August 15, 2022
Well, hot weather, low water levels, low dissolved oxygen, high water temps, I guess that is what the problem is. The striper and trout action has been SLOW. Don't get me wrong, there are still trout and stripers to be caught, just look to your left, it's just you get skunked more often and you catch fewer fish. A gray and white hairy legged blingmaster has been best for the time before dark and then a black beastmaster or black hairy legged blingmaster after dark. Vary your retrieve as you do not know what will work and when. Don't leave too early, almost all the action is after 8 p.m.
July 11, 2022
Rain and pop up storms have been making fishing difficult. Just remember if you are fly fishing you are carrying a 9 foot lightning rod, unless you are spey fishing then it is a 13 foot lightning rod. Sometimes the water is brown and not much use in fishing, but sometimes the water is only green and so it is still fishable. Striper activity is picking up with the active feeding times expanding but often best for a short period. A gray and white hairy legged blingmaster has been best for the time before dark and then a black beastmaster or black hairy legged blingmaster after dark. As is said before, fish with what ever you want while it is still light, but when there is time to tie on one last fly, tie on black.
June 30, 2022
Water levels have been low despite much needed rain; surprisingly the water in the Saluda has remained clear. Stripers are still moving upstream and dispersing in the the Saluda. Took my friend's grandson fishing tonight. He never really fished with a fly rod and has never caught a striper. I let him try the spinning rod for a while with no success. I did not think he was getting the lure far enough downstream to cover enough water, so I asked him if he wanted to try a spey rod. Being a good sport, he agreed. We were in fast water about 15 feet downstream from a tree which leaned out across the water and has eaten many a fly including some of mine. It was awkward at first, but about 10 minutes later he was doing pretty well and was able to cast about 30 feet without endangering either one of us too much or getting hung up in the lurking tree. Well about that time, while using a gray and white goblin, and after letting out about 60 feet of skagit head and running line, he hooked and landed a giant 10 inch striper (yeah they do come that small which I guess is good, as it means there is some reproduction going on). He kept steadily improving pretty much using only a single spey cast, he was able to shoot some line, was not getting the line tangled as much, and stripping the line in well, and was letting out about 135 feet of line downstream. Well he hooked and landed another striper (about 16 inches) on a black blingmaster. Just goes to show, you can learn to spey cast and more importantly catch fish on a spey rod. Casting is great but catching is better! I am not saying it is cheap - spey outfits are expensive, but it is fun, and it is pretty easy to learn enough to get started and catch fish, without learning to double haul .
June 5, 2022
Water levels are very low (650 cfs) so well oxygenated places like riffles and water below rapids will be holding more fish than usual. The Striper bite is gradually increasing in the lower Saluda with most activity still in the area around the Zoo and Congaree head waters, though fish are scattered up and down the Saluda. As I said before, you have to be there during the witching half hour. Tonight my first fish was at 8:16 and my last fish at 8:43. The gray beastmaster and the black beastmaster are the top producing flies right now.
May 24, 2022
Saluda level increased to around 1200 cfs making wading a little harder. The witching half hour described below still holds true. I stated fishing around 6:45 and tried several different flies without success. At 8:41 got my first hit on a black blingmaster. At 8:45 hooked and landed a 22 inch striper on my TFO 10 foot 8 weight (the extra foot helps with keeping the line off the water on your back cast and with mending) in strong current. Had two more half-hearted hits and that was it. You have to be there and be ready when the time comes.
May 17, 2022
Striper numbers are slowly increasing in the Lower Saluda and water levels are low, around 800 cfs. Action is still occurring during the witching half hour described below. ,Last night the witching half hour was from 8:30 to 9:00. I watch people leave too early all the time; last night a spin fisherman was 100 yards above me, and he left about 8:20. I got the first hit around 8:30, caught my first fish at 8:43 and quickly let it go sans photo and caught another around 10 minutes later, and then nothing. All the fish were from 60-90 feet downstream. I was using my TFO 13 foot 7 weight spey rod, because it allows me to effortlessly cast 70-100 feet (without double hauling) so I can get across current streams and let out lots of line (100 feet of running line, 24 foot head, 10 foot tip and 7 foot leader = you do the math). They all took the black size 4 beastmaster on a kona xss super strong stinger hook which we sell, because it is a wide gap stinger hook which does not bend as easily as other stinger hooks. I love the beastmaster because it never tangles, has a great profile, works in smaller sizes, and pushes water which I think the stripers use that lateral line to pick up on. It also catches trout, I picked up 2 rainbows on it the other night. Since I made this fly up, you will not find it any place else other than Fly South.
May 12, 2022
Stripers are still moving farther (not further) upstream in the Saluda, so you should encounter them in increasing numbers. While water level was 1,000 cfs tonight, Dominion is still rapidly increasing water releases as described below, so be careful.
The fly of choice has been the black size 4 hairy legged blingmaster (a variation of the venerable beastmaster) producing 3 fish in 15 minutes during the witching half hour.
As I have told you before, you have to be there, and be ready, when the 30 minute witching half hour comes, as that is when most of the action occurs. When is that you ask, well that is the hard part. It varies, but like true love, you know it when, and if, it comes, as the action picks up noticeably. Lately it has been from approximately 8:15 to 8:45, but who knows when, or if, it will occur tonight.
Two other observations, people do not let enough line out when they are striper fishing, and they do not set the hook properly.
Even if you are not a a good caster, and you think a double haul is when it takes two trips to the car to bring in all the groceries, you can still fish with a lot of line out. How? Cast it as far as you can and then pull line off the reel and let the current carry it downstream for you, mending the line to keep it in the current as it goes out. Who do you think is going to catch more fish, the person who is fishing the water 40 feet downstream or the person who is fishing the water 80 feet downstream? A typical fly line is 90 feet long and a spey running line, head, tip, and leader is 140 feet long! So depending on what I am using, I will fish my fly 85 feet or even 135 feet downstream Does it work? Tonight I landed 3 fish in 15 minutes with 135 feet of line out and my friend landed 0. But remember that nice reel with line capacity I told you that you had to spend money on for striper fishing? One reason is the nice working drag, but the other reason is the line capacity for 30 pound backing. Enough backing so that if you have almost all your line out, you still have something on the reel when the fish hits and runs downstream, and they will. So what do you do then? Well I can't tell you everything in one post, and not everything is free on the internet (or is it) .
Second point, if you have that much line out, or even if you don't, you need to set the hook properly. Do not lift the rod like you are setting the hook on a trout or even a large mouth bass, that does not work well! Your rod tip should almost be touching the water when you are stripping the line in and when you feel anything unusual, pull your right hand back and to the right and your left hand back and to the left quickly and sharply (strip strike). Like I tell people striped bass don't have teeth like trout, they have hard, rough, inner mouths, so you have to "jam the hook into the top of their head," especially if you have a lot of line out due to the elasticity and stretchability (is that a word) of all that line, leader, etc. Thus endeth the lesson. Try it, and if it works, send me an email. If it doesn't work, better luck next time and keep it to yourself.
May 4, 2022
Water is around 3300 cfs which is high for most wading other than my nephews. They had some action with rainbows in the catch and release section of the Saluda with black and purple gamechangers being the fly of choice. Be careful, a few days Dominion was running water at around 1350 cfs and quickly jumped the levels up to 4,000 0r 5,000 or even 8,000 cfs. Do yourself a favor and sign up for phone notifications of increased water levels by going to:
https://www.dominionenergy.com/lakes-and-recreation/lower-saluda-river-sc/lower-saluda-river-alerts#:~:text=System%20Notification%20Directions%3A%20When%20Dominion,prompts%20to%20acknowledge%20the%20call and signing up.
April 26, 2022
Stripers are being caught at Blossom Street and Gervais Street and in fewer numbers in the lower Saluda. Just in time, Fly South has 8-10 weight reels, Rio leaders, Rio monofilament tippet and Rio fluorocarbon tippet in stock. Also lots of striper flies you can actually cast and fish as per my April 1 post below.
April 19, 2022
A new articulated striper fly (Goblin) tied on a stinger hook available. My hot fly so far in the early season and the stinger hook works better than I thought- 2 strikes, 2 fish 24 and 26 inches. see video at https://www.facebook.com/flysouthsc/videos/530705121743432
April 16, 2022
Action in the Saluda is still a little slow, as the stripers still move up in increasing numbers. Be patient, you can fish the same fly in the same spot for a while with no results, and then all at once, the bite will start. Sometimes it is only one fish, but as the season progresses, more fish will become active as they move up into the Saluda in greater numbers. The trick is to be there when the bite starts and take advantage of the window of opportunity no matter how long it lasts and no matter how many fish participate. Just so you will know there is still justice and equity in the world, when I was wade fishing below the Zoo, (Riverbanks that is, not the zoo on the rocks at Candi Lane) two boats with spin fishermen came up at different times anchored across from me cast across from me a while and then roared off either upstream or downstream leaving large waves lapping over my waist. Well neither boat, nor the four fishermen in them, hooked a single fish! I only caught one 24 inch striper on a Goblin fly, but at least I did not get skunked. Wading fly fisherman 1 boat spin fishermen 0 0,
April 14, 2022
The stripers are moving into the lower portions of the Saluda in greater numbers with the little males leading the way. Fish are being caught on larger black leach patterns, beastmasters and goblin patterns. You really should be using 0x tippet for the occasional larger fish.
April 9, 2022
Check out our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/flysouthsc/videos/3129578053960933 for an interesting video of a Fly South original striper fly, the hairy legged blingmaster (a variation of the beastmaster) in action in a Flymen(tm) fly testing machine, you can really see the action in the current - pretty cool!
April 1, 2022
It's striper season, no fooling. They are working their way up into the Congaree, even as far as Gervais Street Bridge. They will be spawning soon and some will head up into the Saluda for the cooler water and to eat trout. Let me tell you a couple of mistakes I see.
First, people are undergunned for stripers. You can use your 5 weight rod to catch stripers, but you really shouldn't; you can't throw larger flies, you can't fight larger fish without killing them if you do land them. Heck, you might even break your rod and give yourself the unenviable opportunity to see how good your rod warranty is and how long it takes you to get it back. The minimum should be an 8 weight. Sure you can use a 7 weight, but an 8 weight will double as a saltwater rod and it can handle larger stripers, and even the little ones are fun on an 8 weight. You can also cast larger flies without auditioning your shoulder for rotator cuff surgery; don't believe me try casting an 11 weight rod for a while, even if you are a good caster, you will be reaching for the Celebrex.
Second, get a decent reel. The drag on a trout reel is hardly ever used and you will not see the backing until you change the line. A striper reel is a different story, you are buying a reel for the drag, and you are going to pay more for it. Why? Because the first 10 seconds of a striper fight can make it or break it (the leader literally) for you. It takes a while (and some experience) to figure out how large that fish is at the end of your line. While you are doing that, you are getting your line on the reel, and the drag on the reel (which you set before you started right?) is humming and doing its job to help your leader survive that initial run, so you can figure put how big the fish is and how to play it. Often times you will see your backing (30 lb backing right?) so you need a larger reel which can hold an 8 weight line and enough backing to allow you to tire the fish out and bring it in.
Third, use heavier leaders and tippet think 1x, 0x (13 or 15 pound test). Nine times out of ten, you will not need that for the schoolies but stripers can't count and don't come in numerical order.
Fourth, don't use too large a fly. Why? Well many stripers like real large flies it's true, but how good is your casting, how good is your double haul, how hard is the back of your head? All good questions if you are using a fly that is too big for the rod or your casting ability. A fly is no good if you cannot cast it. The only fly that works it the one you can get into the water. Many of the flies I use and sell are size 4 and 6, and I have caught plenty of stripers, including a 16 pound striper last summer on a size 4 hairy legged blingmaster on an 8 weight TFO single hand rod. If you want to cast really big flies for really big fish, I think that is great, but either work really hard on your casting and use a big single handed rod, or buy a spey rod and save yourself from worrying how you are going to get that big hook out of the back of your head. You do not have to cast 60 feet to catch stripers. I have helped people who cannot cast 30 feet to catch stripers, but you have to get the fly in the water without hurting yourself or your buddy and smaller flies are better for that.
Fifth, buy flies that work on the Congaree and Saluda. Sure you can buy generic flies for $1.99 - $2.99 and hope the hooks are good quality and are sharp and are what the fish want. However, for about .99 cents more, you can buy one that caught fish around here, that is tied on a quality hook that is sharp and ready to use. Stripers have no teeth, so they have tough mouths with a rough inside, so you need a sharp hook which you can jam into the top of their mouth so you can start the ride. Well, I am getting off the soap box now. If you want more striper tactics, tips and stories, read my earlier fishing reports or contact me and come by.
February 21, 2022
Water remains at very low levels (below 700 cfs). Water clarity is good except after rain. Some fish are rising to blue wing olives around dusk. "Mini mes" are taking some fish. A few holdover fish are being taken, but most of the action is with the stockers.
February 3, 2022
Water has been low and clear on the Saluda for several days now. Perfect wading conditions. You may even see a fish or two that you spook. With these conditions lighter mono leaders or fluoro leaders are advisable. Caught a skinny 16 inch rainbow and a nice 20 inch rainbow yesterday on a size 16 Higa's SOS which is a great fly on the Saluda. The 20 inch rainbow was quite colored up and had a kipe and lots of big teeth (not a bass or striper to be lipped unless you want to alter your fingerprints for some nefarious reason). There is a distinct possibility with the recent colder temperatures and drop in water temperature, the rainbows may start spawning early. Be careful not to wade through redds if you see them.
January 23, 2022
Fly fishing on the Saluda is picking up probably due to the stockings in the last few weeks and low water levels for the past weeks allowing more access. Some nicer holdover fish are being taken but nothing like the levels in past years before the disastrous near zero dissolved oxygen levels of September 2020 (see that entry below). Fish are being taken on caddis pupae imitations, pheasant tail nymphs, evil weevils, slumpbusters and mini-gamechangers (tm).
September 26, 2021
Well perhaps due to a drop in ambient temperature or better do levels in the Saluda over the last several days, the trout fishing has picked up a little. As always the Higa's SOS is working and so are caddis dries at around a half hour before sunset. Green mayfly nymphs are also good searching patterns along with rainbow micro gamechanger (tm). Water is holding steady at around 1090-1120 cfs.
August 11, 2021
Water has been low (around 750 cfs) for a few days. If you have not read earlier posts in the fishing reports, you may pick up some helpful hints by doing. For example, in an earlier post I told you about a technique to remember. When you are getting ready to reel in for the last time, don't just mindlessly reel it in as fast as you can. Reel, wiggle the rod, stop, reel wiggle the rod, stop, rinse and repeat. This only works about 5% of the time. However it worked like a charm tonight. About half way in I hooked and landed an approximately 15 pound striper on an olive articulated slumpbuster tied on a size 4 Kona super strong stinger hook. Quite a tussle on my 8 weight rod but worth it! So remember to make that last reeling in one with a purpose and be ready to set the hook before you call it a day or night or what ever.
July 31, 2021
Rain is still sporadic with thunderstorms. Water is around 880 cfs on Saluda, clarity is variable, and there is still a lot of algae in the water making it hard to keep the fly clean. Striper action is still slow. My records show a 45% decrease from last year at this time. Articulated slumpbusters tied on saltwater or big game hooks in sizes 4 and 6 with weedguards have been the best flies. Fog has been bad at night so be careful.
July 27, 2021
Rain has been sporadic and so have the thunderstorms. Water clarity has suffered due to runoff, algae is still bad. The moisture has caused a lot of fog on the Saluda. Picked up 3 small stripers during the 35 minute window between 7:50 and 8:25. Two on articulated slumpbuster and one on black beastmaster. Glad I had my wading staff, since the fog made seeing anything difficult even with a headlamp.
July 26, 2021
Striper fishing is slow but steady in the Saluda with water holding 875-900 cfs. Black beastmaster is the best fly right now and activity is slow until the 30 minute window. When is the window - well that is the question isn't it? Could be any time from late afternoon until the early a.m. The trick is to be there and be ready when it comes. For me it has been between 7:30 and 9 and for about 20-30 minutes sometime during that span.
July 15, 2021
Water is holding around 875-930 cfs, water clarity is average, but there is still algae in the water. Landed a 23 inch striper with algae on his head, and algae on the leader knots. This is a good time to use a leader with as few knots as possible. Striper activity is still a little slow, and you have to watch for evening thunderstorms. The flies which are working are a size 6 gervais gray , a size 6 purple and white clouser and best of all a black beastmaster at dark.
July 10, 2021
Striper activity is picking up in the Saluda, even though most activity is in the lower parts of the river. Size 6 purple and white clouser, size 4 island girl clouser and size 4 black beastmaster are the most productive flies. Some insect activity and a few rising trout around dark.
July 1, 2021
Fished last night in between the rain and during the surreal fog. Striper activity has picked up a little but still is not up to the levels of past years. Size 2 Island Girl Clouser and size 4 black hairy legged blingmaster flies worked with the blingmaster getting the most action. Still having to put out a lot of line to get bites which makes it harder to get a good hook set. Algae has picked up significantly probably due to warmer weather and more fertilization of yards on Lake Murray. Dumbbell eyed patterns like Clousers and larger hooks pick up more algae than conehead flies and smaller hooks. Also if your flies have fragile materials like fine rubber legs of thin flash materials, it is easier to tear up those parts of the fly while removing the algae. Still a pain no matter what you use. Best action started around 8:45 to 9:10 p.m. A few more holdover trout are being taken during the day.
June 23, 2021
Water was around 1400 but later dropped to 950 where it has stayed. Water clarity is excellent. Striper and trout activity is still a little slow. Picked up 2 stripers 1 on white circus peanut and 1 on black blingmaster along with another hookup on the blingmaster. Only action was while line was going out or being held still and swinging
June 16, 2021
A little more trout and striper activity in the Saluda. Blue wing olives and black streamers are working on trout (a little) and White Circus pnut variation and chartreuse and white clousers are producing a little action on stripers.
June 1, 2021
People call, text and e mail asking where are the stripers in the Saluda? I was wondering the same and asked a DNR biologist. He said there are stripers spread out in the Saluda, but the water is still cold in the lower reaches of the Saluda and the Congaree, so there is not the same urgency for the stripers to move up from warmer water in the usual numbers yet. Take a look at the attached usgs temperature chart for April 15, 2020 - May 31, 2020 and the chart for the same period in 2021. In May 2020 the water was never below 55 and was as high as 58.9. In May 2021 water was often below 55 and no higher than 57. Maybe that is it. There are also a lot more boats on the Saluda - covid? Be patient, get your gear ready and pick up fish in the Saluda and the Congaree (until 6/15) and I will keep you posted.
May 27, 2021
Water is cold!! Picked up 3 small stripers on black beastmaster below zoo.
May 23, 2021
Saluda at 850 cfs. Water clarity has diminished a bit. Striper activity is abnormally slow in the Saluda for this time of year. Maybe low flows? Picked up 1 18 inch schoolie on olive articulated slumpbuster tied on saltwater hook.
May 18, 2021
Water dropped to 850 cfs on Saluda and water clarity is great. Picked up 2 stockers euro nymphing with sz 6 caddis larvae and the always reliable Higa's SOS. Still not many fishing rising to insects and not much striper activity in Saluda yet.
Water up to 2,700 cfs - hard wading. Trout (including a few holdovers) being caught on tungsten flash nymphs and bwo emergers. While some fish are taking insects on top, no real dry fly action yet. If you want to try dries use a sz 14 light cahill or a size 18 parachute adams.
May 13, 2021
Water has been around 4,000 cfs since rain on Wednesday. Levels dropped rapidly this afternoon but it took a while for the water levels to drop downstream (a reading of 1,000 cfs at the usgs station below the dam does not mean it is 1,000 where you are fishing right away, so be careful). Water clarity good but water was 54 degrees and no wet wading going on. Fished with TFO Deer Creek 13'0 7 wt spey rod due to limited back cast room. Used intermediate mow tip. Started around 7 pm and tried blue and whiter beastmaster with mini gamechanger dropper, tried purple and white island girl clouser, tried white circus pnut. No hits. Switched to black non-articulated hairy legged blingmaster at around 8 and hooked fish at 8:32. Landed 27 inch striper (see pic) Stripers are in the Saluda even as high up as I-20 bridge but no large numbers yet. Stripers are still being caught in Congaree on tutti fruitti clousers.
April 23, 2021
Water back to wadeable levels and clarity is good. Very few holdover fish being caught or found during electroshock procedures. Tight line nymphing and streamers are producing stocked fish which are increasing in size at a good rate. Some sparse size 18 blue quill, caddis and size 14 light cahill hatches have been observed but no rising fish. Stripers are at least as high as Gervais Street, but still very little action in the Saluda for stripers. We have 8 weight rods, reels and fly lines in stock along with 0x leaders and tippet and striper flies so you can be ready.
April 8, 2021
Water level on Saluda is around 990 cfs and water clarity is good. Sparse blue quill and caddis hatches have been observed. Stockers are being taken on mini gamechangers (tm), soft hackle pheasant tails and hare's ear nymphs. Stripers are being taken on the Congaree below 77 bridge and have been seen above that. Lots of baitfish in the water.
March 24, 2021
Finally Saluda dropped over night. Water level is around 805 cfs (lower than it has been for a while) and water clarity is good if you ignore the pollen on the water. Stockers still constitute most of the action with holdovers being scarce. Best fly so far is a olive slumpbuster. If you catch one stocker try a few more casts before moving on. Also the takes are pretty subtle so be alert.
March 10, 2021
Water dropping from 1070 cfs to 890 cfs, water clarity is still good, perhaps due to lack of fertilization of lawns around houses on Lake Murray at this time of year. Olive slumpbuster still working on stockers but no holdover fish, and stockers are not stacked up in one spot like before.
March 9, 2021
Water holding around 1070 cfs. Water clarity is very good. A little bit of midge activity but no real dry fly rises. Stockers being taken on olive slumpbuster. Keep moving around until you locate fish and then see if there are other fish in the area. I took several fish while lifting the fly downstream in the current. The takes can be subtle, so using a stripping guard can be helpful to feel the fish bump the fly. Still no reports of holdover fish.
March 6, 2021
Water conditions remain unchanged. Stockers still being taken on black streamers
March 4, 2021
Water levels are holding 1100 cfs, a little high for wading but doable especially with a wading staff. Stockers are being taken on black streamers.
February 3, 2021
While the water levele holding around 930 cfs and stocking is taking place on the Saluda, water clarity is still poor, so be careful wading.
January 23, 2021
Well finally the Lake Murray drawdown is done, and the water level hovering around 980 cfs, still a little high for wading but doable. Water clarity is excellent for a change. Stockers are being taken on squirmy wormies, chartreuse and black streamers and other small to mid-size streamers. Some short and sparse blue quill hatches are occurring, and fish are being taken on a size 18 extended body parachute adams. Have fun while it lasts!
December 15, 2020
People have been asking “What is up with the Saluda?” I presume they mean the consistently high water levels and the poor water clarity. A October 2, 2020 press release from Dominion Energy stated: “Dominion Energy has confirmed its Lake Murray water levels for the remainder of 2020. The company plans to maintain the lake close to its current 356-foot level through the peak of hurricane season in mid-October, then gradually lower the lake to a target elevation of 354 feet by the end of the year. Dominion Energy began lowering the lake on Sept. 15 in anticipation of heavy rainfall and higher-than-normal waterflow as the remnants of Hurricane Sally impacted South Carolina. The drawdown complied with guidance from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. “We took these precautionary measures to ensure operational preparedness for unusually high rains that were in the forecast,” Dominion Energy South Carolina vice president of Power Generation Jim Landreth said. ‘Fortunately, rainfall amounts were not excessive.’” From this link, you can view the lake levels in light of the full pool level of 360 feet msl. http://murray.uslakes.info/Level/
As to water clarity, who knows? Construction upstream from prime fishing areas is partially to blame but warmer weather and longer growing seasons (think more fertilizer running into Lake Murray and then the Saluda) may also be at play.
Another issue is low dissolved oxygen levels. Temperature levels are also important but that is for another day. Dissolved oxygen levels below 4 parts per million are stressful on trout. Based on USGS charts for USGS 02168504 SALUDA RIVER BELOW LK MURRAY DAM NR COLUMBIA, SC, starting late on September 15, 2020, until early on September 18, 2020, discharge was over 15,000 cubic feet per second and correspondingly dissolved oxygen levels dropped to almost 0 parts per million. Dissolved oxygen levels remained below 4 parts per million from late Sep. 15, 2020, (the same date referred to in the Dominion Energy press release above) until midday early on September 21, 2020. Dissolved oxygen levels rose to above 6 parts per million later on September 21, 2020 and fluctuated between 4 ppm and 7 ppm for the rest of the month. If you read on the internet, you will find that some measurements are in ppm (parts per million) and some are in mg/l (milligrams per liter). 1 ppm is roughly equivalent to 1 mg/l, so you get the picture. Now what does that mean for trout?
Salmonid mortality begins to occur when dissolved oxygen concentrations are below 3 mg/L for periods longer than 3.5 days (US EPA 1986). A summary of various field study results by WDOE (2002) reports that significant mortality occurs in natural waters when dissolved oxygen concentrations fluctuate the range of 2.5 - 3 mg/L. Long-term (20 - 30 days) constant exposure to mean dissolved oxygen concentrations below 3 - 3.3 mg/L is likely to result in 50% mortality of juvenile salmonids (WDOE, 2002). According to a short-term (1-4 hours) exposure study by Burdick et al. (1954, as cited by WDOE, 2002), in warm water (20 - 21 C) salmonids may require daily minimum oxygen levels to remain above 2.6 mg/L to avoid significant (50%) mortality. From these and other types of studies, WDOE (2002) concluded that juvenile salmonid mortality can be avoided if daily minimum dissolved oxygen concentration remain above 3.9 mg/L, and the monthly or weekly average of minimum concentrations remains above 4.6 mg/L.
Carter. K. “The Effects of Dissolved Oxygen on Steelhead Trout, Coho Salmon, and Chinook Salmon Biology and Function by Life Stage” August 2005. https://www.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/07354626738.pdf
One of the most critical factors in determining trout survival is the level of dissolved oxygen in the water. For many species of salmonids, exposure to low levels of dissolved oxygen (less than approximately 5.0 - 6.0 mg.L-1) can result in mortality (Doudoroff and Shumway 1970, in Weithman and Haas 1984). Oxygen concentration has been identified as the critical factor for the survival of O.mykiss from spawning to hatching (Rubin 1998).
Molony, B. “Environmental requirements and tolerances of Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and Brown trout (Salmo trutta) with special reference to Western Australia: A review”
FISHERIES RESEARCH REPORT NO. 130, 2001
Well that is the bad news. The good news is that the Lake Murray thermocline is changing as it always does this time of year so that the colder, oxygenated water is where the turbines on Lake Murray will be drawing from (or if you are a grammarian, from which the turbines on Lake Murray will be drawing). For example, the dissolved oxygen levels on the Saluda varied from 4 parts per million to 10 parts per million between November 1, 2020 and December 9, 2020. When this happens, DNR will begin stocking again. Watch the river levels and maybe we'll start fishing again soon. For more on thermoclines, see
November 4, 2020
Water levels dropped below 1,000 cfs for about an hour, then Dominion, as usual, raised the water level. Water clarity is poor but a few rainbows are being taken on golden stones and squirmy wormies. Some browns on a Higa's SOS. There was a decent hatch of size 18-20 blue quills and size 12-14 light cahills but no rising fish. Remember the river seems to get muddy easier and stay muddy longer after a rain or after a flow increase.
October 18, 2020
Water is fluctuating between 1400 and 1700 cfs which is a little high for wading in many places. Water clarity is poor. Tried a couple of streamers without success.
September 3, 2020
Water clarity is much improved but river levels are fluctuating quickly so be careful. Flies which are working are black hairy legged blingmaster , black beastmaster, black circus peanut, and size 4 -6 purple and white clouser,
August 18, 2020
To quote Franki Valli "Oh What a Night." I really did not have high expectations when I went fishing. The water was a little higher than I like at 1790 cfs and a little off color after all the rain in the past days. Started around 6:45 p.m. (start earlier if it is overcast). I was using my TFO 10 foot 8 weight BVK rod, as I like the extra foot to keep the fly up high on my backcast and I like the extra punch the BVK gives me for larger flies. While I was letting my line out for my first cast, I caught my first schooiie on a black beastmaster. Remember if the water is off color, a black fly shows up better. Also remember what I have said before - be ready on that first cast; have the drag set, your gear ready and be prepared to set the hook. Well that was the first of 19 schoolies on a couple of variations of the black beastmaster (my favorite striper fly and a Fly South original). Two fish broke me off on my 15 pound test Rio Fluoroflex Plus 0x tippet right at the loop knot. Have to learn sometime not to horse stripers; it's hard to tell for a while if it is a good fish or another schoolie in the strong current. I moved up and down the stretch of water and tried different techniques such as casting across and letting the line form a belly downstream and making short strips while the line swings - the hits are vicious when you do this, so hold on. I also caught fish by making short casts straight downstream and stripping it back by letting out 90 feet of line straight downstream and stripping it back. I also caught fish by keeping a tight line while I was letting line out after a cast, since some fish hit the fly while it was drifting downstream and not while I was stripping the fly. I also caught fish by casting at a 45 degree angle and letting the fly swing while stripping it. Also remember when dark comes, the stripers may move into different types of water to feed. Just because a section of water does not produce fish earlier, don't give up on it - try a couple of casts back there. The action was fast and furious for 45 minutes and steady for 2 hours. No fish over 22 inches, who cares when there is that type of action. You can sit and wait for the trout bite to pick up as water temperature drops and dissolved oxygen increases or you can go out and catch stripers right now. I have the flies, the leaders, the tippet, and some tips if you want them. Why miss the fun?
August 11, 2020
Lot of rain and fluctuating water levels. Water clarity is not good. When water clarity is not good, you need to use a black fly preferably one with a cone head to create a push in the water. Lots of afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Despite all that, stripers are being caught on the Saluda along with an occasional trout. Productive flies include a size 6 purple and white clouser, an articulated purple and white beastmaster, a black circus peanut, a black articulated beastmaster and a black hairy legged articulated beastmaster. Fewer fish are being caught while stripping in the line. More are being caught while the fly is drifting downstream or when mending the line downstream to create a U and then making short strips and keeping the line tight while the fly swings downstream and across. When you do fish a tight line, hold on to the rod, the takes can be vicious!