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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 the 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. As before 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 like in years past.
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 levels are holdng 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 levels are 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 me “What is up with the Saluda?” I presume they mean the consistently high water levels and the poor water clarity. An 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 on September 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 start reading on the internet, you will find that some measurements are in ppm (parts per million) and some are in mg/l (milligrams per liter). In any event, 1 ppm is roughly equivalent to 1 mg/l, so you get the picture. Now what does that mean for trout? See for yourself.
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.
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 part per million to 10 parts per million between November 1, 2020 and December 9, 2020. When this happens, DNR will begin stocking again. So watch the river levels and maybe you we 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. There are still a few stripers in the right places and still some nice fish in 22-24 inch range, 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. (you can 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 several times - 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, as it is 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. So 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, but 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 out on 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, there are still Stripers to be 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!
July 21, 2020
Water has stayed around 850 cfs and water clarity has improved. Thunderstorms are popping up in the afternoon and evening, so be careful. Striper activity is picking up in the Saluda. Effective flies are a size 4 purple and white clouser, a size 4 or 6 blue and white clouser, a white circus peanut, a light olive circus peanut, a black circus peanut and a black articulated beastmaster.
July 15, 2020
Took two friends fishing for stripers. The water was still around 850 cfs and decent clarity. Picked up several small stripers on modified olive slumpbuster on salt water hook, size 6 Gervais Gray and black beastmaster. One nice 6 pounder (see picture) was caught on modified black slumpbuster tied on salt water hook. The slumpbuster is a great fly, but the trout hooks just don't stand up to striper fishing.
July 14, 2020
Saluda dropped overnight to around 800 cfs. Water clarity is pretty good, but there is a lot of moss and algae on the rocks, so now is not a bad time for studded felt soles to cut through the vegetation. Took a friend fishing, and he used a spey rod for the first time. After about 20 minutes he was doing pretty well with my TFO 13'0" 7/8 Deer Creek Spey rod. While there were still some less than picture perfect casts, he was able to do some perry poke casts of 40-50 feet. He picked up 4 small stripers and a nice 20 incher and a small shellcracker (go figure). A size 6 purple and white clouser accounted for a couple, as did a small black articulated slumpbuster and a small black articulated beastmaster.
July 12, 2020
Water is steady around 2100 cfs. Trout fishing has slowed down. Black zonkers are working okay but the best fly right now is a Perdigon fly - the Navy Diver.
July 10, 2020
Water dropped from 2900 to about 2100 cfs which is still high for wading and requires greater care and a wading staff. Used my TFO 13'0" 7/8 Deer Creek Spey rod. Tried a couple of different flies with no success. Switched to a small articulated black beastmaster at around 7:15 and picked up 3 small stripers in about 15 minutes. Then things slowed down for about 30 minutes, so I switched to a small articulated black slumpbuster and picked up 4 more stripers. Tonight's lesson was that while I was stripping in the fly, several times fish struck at it on the surface. The natural reaction is to set the hook hard. Fortunately, I was able to resist doing that, and instead I just kept stripping the fly until I felt the weight of the fish and then I did a strip strike to set the hook. It worked on at least 3 of the fish. I am guessing that they come up and hit their target to stun it and then come back to finish the meal. Not sure if that is what is happening but worked for me.
June 30, 2020
Take the Saluda Summer Shore Slam Challenge. While wading on the Saluda, catch a rainbow trout, brown trout, and striped bass on a fly with a fly rod in a 12 hour period and send me the pictures. I will post them in the fishing pictures section of the website and salute you as a Slammer (or a better name if you can think of one). If you can't get pictures of all 3 that is okay, I trust you, so send me the pictures you were able to get.
June 29, 2020
Water has risen and is between 2200-3000 cfs. Algae is a little better but still a problem, especially for double hook patterns. I have been able to fish close to shore with my spey rod, as I do not have to have much back cast room. Casting does not equal catching. The higher water level has seemed to put the fish down. Got skunked 2 nights but did catch a nice 18 inch striper on a small articulated purple and white beastmaster, which is fun in the strong current. While I was bringing him in, one of the thunderstorms struck , and there were white caps on the river. Landed him, beat a quick retreat, and got soaked.
June 23, 2020
Saluda has been holding steady around 760 cfs. The algae is still bad, making it harder to fish anything other than dries which are not all that effective right now. If you are fishing streamers or striper fishing, flies with dumbbell eyes seem to pick up more algae than other flies, even those with cone heads. Got started later last night. Fished with my TFO 13'0" 7/8 weight spey rod. Tried a tutti fruitti clouser which picked up so much algae that I switched to a purple and white sz 4 beastmaster and caught a schoolie right away. After my purple and white beastmaster got hung up on a cursed tree and broke off, I put on a size 2 black articulated beastmaster at around 8:30 and caught 2 schoolies. About 9:00, that beastmaster lived up to its name, and I landed a fat 27 inch striper which according to the weight chart would be about 10.5 pounds. Quite a tussle on a 13 foot rod. Got a great picture of his mouth (see picture below), as it his hard to take a picture while holding a 10 pound fish in your hand. Should have beached it and laid it on the shore for a picture, but after a long fight, a great picture is not worth the life of a great fish. Tonight's lesson - if you are fishing a hole where you know there are fish and not catching anything, move around and stand in a different place. Sometimes after being skunked, you can use the same fly with the same stripping action and move a few feet and catch fish. I guess a few feet make a difference in the drift or the presentation, so if what you are doing is not working, move around, even just a little bit. What harm can it do, and it might help.
June 18, 2020
Saluda has dropped to around 795 cfs, so wading is much better. The algae is really bad, especially on top of rocks which have recently been exposed by the drop in water level. Got started around 7:10 p.m. using TFO BVK 10'0" 8 weight rod. The extra foot in length helps keep the line off the water for longer casts and makes mending the line for longer drifts in the right current line easier. Started with a purple and white size 4 clouser. Missed one on the first cast, so just a reminder to have your drag set and be ready on the first cast. Caught 3 schoolies on the purple and white. Changed to a sz 2 articulated black beastmaster and after a nice cast and some more line out, hooked a nice fish about 100 feet downstream (did you catch that 100 feet) meaning I spliced part of an old wf8f fly line to my present wf8f fly line to get a longer drift before stripping. It is hard to get a good hook set with that much line out, and after fighting the fish upstream for about 3 minutes, the hook pulled out when the fish was about 15 feet from me. Better to have loved and lost ....
June 17, 2020
Took a friend who wanted to try a spey rod fishing. Water level was around 1,200 cfs and water clarity is a little better. We used a TFO 12'8" 6/7 spey rod and a TFO 13'0" spey 7/8 rod. It was his first time with a spey rod, and he did well. Picked up a small schoolie on the first cast and a 21 incher on the 12'8" 6/7 spey rod and a size 6 navy and white clouser . He later caught a nice 27 incher on the 13'0" 7/8 spey rod and a sz 2 articulated black beastmaster. While doing a little demonstrating, I picked up 2 schoolies on a black beastmaster. The bite started around 7:15 and was good for about 30 minutes and then slowed down with only periodic action for the next hour of so with the 27 incher being taken around 9:10. See picture in photo gallery. While most were taken while stripping the line in, one was picked up using the line holding technique described below and the 27 incher was caught on the last cast using the reeling technique described below.
June 16, 2020
Saluda has dropped to around 1,140 cfs, water is still not very clear. I was wondering if overcast skies would offset cold front which moved in as to striper bite; they like overcast weather but most fish are put off by a cold front moving in. Started earlier than the norm hoping overcast skies might start the bite earlier. It was not to be. Tried numerous flies without success. The bite started at 7:18, and I caught 3 schoolies in next 13 minutes on black size 2 non-articulated beastmaster. About 30 minutes later, I hooked a nice fish that ran straight upstream against the current. It has been a while since I hooked a decent striper, and I did not put it on the reel. The fish broke my 0x Rio Fluoroflex Plus (15 lb test). The lesson here is when you hook a striper put it on the reel as soon as you can. If it is a small one, you can then strip it in by hand. If it is a larger fish or you cannot tell what size it is at first, put in on the reel - no harm done as long as you set the drag before you started. If you did set the drag, put the fish on the reel. When the fish runs, take your hand off the reel handle and trust the drag. You actually pay more for a decent striper reel, because unlike a trout reel, you often use the drag on a striper reel.
June 9, 2020
The Saluda is still holding around 1800 cfs which is a little high for wading, water clarity is still not great, especially after the rain Tuesday and Wednesday. Be careful and use polarized glasses and a wading staff. If you are going to fish at night be prepared. See below.Caught a couple of small stripers on a sz 6 navy and white Ironside. Caught one of these by holding the line still and holding the rod high, letting the fly rise to the surface and swing. Had one strike and one fish doing this, sometimes it works. Caught a small striper and a 23 incher (around 6.5 pounds based on length/weight chart) on a size Black Beastmaster all while using my TFO BVK 12'8" 6-7 weight spey rod. I did not have much back cast room, so the spey rod was great. The stripers were active for a longer period probably due to the imminent bad weather. Right after I landed the 23 inch striper, a terrible storm hit very quickly without any preliminary light rain. The wind was blowing the rain sideways and visibility was terrible. My first headlamp did not work, but fortunately I had a backup. Without a headlamp, I do not believe I would have been able to see to wade safely through the storm. The lesson here is the weather can change quickly with popup thunder storms at night, so have two headlamps, a wading staff and your phone in a waterproof case (?) and waterproof bag (not a ziplock bag). I was soaked but safe.
June 5, 2020
The Saluda is holding around 1800 cfs which is a little high for wading, water clarity is still not great. Be careful and use polarized glasses and a wading staff. Some nice fish are being caught at Saluda Shoals Park on a size 20 bead head pheasant tail.Caught a couple of small stripers and a nice rainbow on a sz 6 navy Gervais Gray using my TFO BVK 12'8" 6-7 weight spey rod. I did not have much back cast room, so the spey rod was great. As is the norm, the stripers were active for about 45 minutes from 7:20- 8:05. A couple of quick tips, when are you moving a short distance from one spot to another or doing something that takes a little time (ex. answering your phone if you must, looking for another fly, etc.) if you can, keep your fly in the water. I have picked up an odd fish here and there doing this; it seems like cheating but who cares. Also if you are streamer fishing and you are about to call it quits, while you are reeling in your fly, stop it a few times. I've had strikes several times while doing this, sometimes you lose the fish, because it is hard to set the hook properly, but sometimes you don't. Not sure what it is, but I have stripped the fly through the same water with no results, then I reel it in and a fish hits it. The reeling action gets a strike on the same fly when stripping did not.
June 2, 2020
Just a quick reminder, if the rivers ever drop and you want to fish for striped bass in the Santee River System (Below Lake Moultrie to the coast, up to the Lake Murray Dam on the Saluda, up to the Canal Dam on the Broad River, and up to the Wateree Dam on the Wateree River), the regulations are as follows: "June 16-Sept. 30 closed except for Lower Saluda River where catch and release is allowed." In other words, around here, the only place you can fish for striped bass after June 15 is on the Lower Saluda River. To make it even simpler, if you are fishing the Saluda in the catch and release section (Lower Saluda River from the east bound I-20 bridge downstream to Stacey’s Ledge) and you catch a trout any time, let it go. If you are fishing the Lower Saluda after June 15 and catch a striper, let it go.
May 27, 2020
Saluda dropped from 12,200 to 7,500 but no fishing any time soon. When you start wading, be careful, as all this high water has undercut banks which you have walked on in the past . While we are waiting, it is a good time to check your gear and make sure you put new leaders on or at least new tippet. Check your split shot and strike indicators. If you want to buy or tie flies which worked before the deluge, here they are: For trout: size 6 black slumpbuster, size 10 pat's rubberlegs, size 14-16 bh flashback pheasant tail, size 16 HIga's SOS, and size 8 rainbow rubberleg euro. nymph. For stripers: white articulated fishskull shad fly, size 2 articulated black beastmaster, size 6 black slumpbuster and sz 2 tutti fruitti clouser.
May 15, 2020
Saluda still holding steady around 1520. Water is a little high,but water clarity is improving. Did a little night time fishing with my 10 foot 8 weight BVK rod. I like the extra foot in length as it helps keep the line up high and off the water when you are wading and helps you pick up more line when you are trying to mend a lot of line to keep the current from dragging your fly where you do not want it to go. Picked up 2 small stripers and a small rainbow on size 6 black slumpbuster.
May 12, 2020
Saluda still holding steady around 1520. Water is a little high and is still murky green and difficult to wade in. Had some action on size 16 bh flashback pheasant tail and size 6 black slumpbuster
May 9, 2020
Saluda has dropped to about 1520 and seems to be holding steady. Water is a little high and is still murky green and difficult to wade in. BUY A WADING STAFF! Some nice trout are being caught on a pheasant tail nymph. First Saluda stripers of the year being caught on my TFO 13 foot 7-8 weight spey rod. First one was a whopping 10 incher caught on a 3 inch white articulated fishskull shad fly- gotta admire its courage or feel sorry for its desperation. Later caught a decent 20 inch striper on a size 2 articulated black beastmaster.
April 28, 2020
Saluda has been holding steady at around 1,400 cfs but is still green and murky. Productive flies have been size 6 black slumpbuster, size 10 pat's rubberlegs, sz 10 girdle bug and size 18 Higa's SOS (see picture at left) . We have the SOS and Slumpbuster in stock! Wading is treacherous due to poor visibility. If you have a wading staff, use it; if you don't have a collapsible wading staff, then buy one. Who wants to see an orthopaedist now?
April 26, 2020
Saluda has been holding steady at around 1,400 cfs but is still green and murky. A nice Blue Quill hatch came off this afternoon. I seined some duns and nymphs sizes 18-20, but the fish did not appear to be keying on them yet, as they do later on. Productive flies have been size 6 black slumpbuster, size 10 pat's rubberlegs and size 8 rainbow rubberleg euro nymph. Wading is still more difficult than water level would indicate due to poor visibility especially with respect to moss covered rocks, some rocks are also covered with slick slime.
April 21, 2020
Saluda has dropped to around 1,400 cfs but is still green and murky. Some light mayfly activity. Fish have been caught on size 16 Higas SOS and size 8 rainbow rubberleg euro nymph. Wading is still more difficult than water level would indicate due to poor visibility especially with respect to moss covered rocks, some rocks are also covered with slick slime.
April 9, 2020
Saluda has dropped to around 1,000 cfs but is still green and murky. Fishing has been a little better. Fish have been caught on size 22 black zebra midge with silver bead, size 16 Higas SOS Size 14 San Juan Worm, and size 14 frenchie tied on jig hook. Wading is still more difficult than water level would indicate due to poor visibility especially with respect to moss covered rocks.
April 7, 2020
Saluda has finally dropped and remained at around 1370 cfs which is a little high for wading but still possible. The water is green and murky, so visibility is very poor, especially for seeing moss covered rocks. The rocks are also very slick, since they have been underwater for a while and the sun has not had an opportunity to dry out the slime, so be careful. Spin fishermen have been catching some nice stripers at the Gervais Street Bridge. As far as trout go in the Saluda, czech nymping, indicator nymphing and streamer fishing have been working okay. Higas SOS and a black articulated beastmaster have been working on occasion.
March 28, 2020
Saluda has been around 12,000 cfs for a while now, so no fishing. Now is a good time to learn fly tying or to pick it up again or continue what you have been doing. If you are new to fly tying or have been away for a while, then please read my Dec. 6, 2018, entry about getting started in fly tying. I have fly tying kits, vises, materials, hooks, etc in stock. Listen if you can't fish, you can't work and you have time on your hands, you might as well tie some flies. There are simple flies I have taught boy scouts how to tie that catch fish. Fly tying is also a great relaxer that gets your mind off other things. With so many great videos on youtube, there is no reason not to get started. If you don't tie, you can still come by to buy flies, fly lines, leaders, tippet, strike indicators, boxes. If you have not changed your leader, bought new tippet, put on a new line,or rearranged your fly boxes, now is the time. I change my tippet out every year, who wants to lose a great fish over $4?
March 19, 2020
Saluda River level is still lingering around 2020 cfs. Water clarity is still poor. The combination of higher water level and poor water clarity make wading difficult. If you have a wading staff, now is definitely the time to use it. If you do not have a collapsible wading staff, now is a good time to buy one; it can't hurt, and it can really help (cheaper than knee surgery). For those hardy enough to wade out from the shore, fish are being caught nymphing and fishing streamers. I had a little action on a black beastmaster and an olive slumpbuster with my 6/7 spey rod and 2x fluoro leader. Fish are also being caught on tan nymphs and green caddis pupae. Also keep in mind that unlike spin fishing with a friend, the required distance between fly fishermen makes it a good socially distancing activity, even if you do it with a friend. Please also remember TU parking passes are no longer valid and unless you have property owner permission, you cannot access the river via the traditional access point.
March 11, 2020
Water is still high and off color. Some brave, younger fishermen have been fishing on the saluda and picking up some fish along the shore using black or olive streamers. Based on past records, stripers should be in the Congaree below Amazon if the muddy water has not put them off.
February 5, 2020
River is up again and muddy. Even when it drops to a wadeable level, it will take a while for water clarity to come back. All the mud and water on the rocks make even normally good wading spots more treacherous, so be careful if you get a chance to fish in the near future.
January 25, 2020
Well after weeks of high water, the Saluda is finally below 1,000 cfs and is wadeable. The water is muddy, and visibility is limited so be careful wading as the limited visibility makes it more treacherous. While there is some surface activity and some LIght Cahills have been seen, streamers are the way to go. Darker colored streamers show up better in the off color water. If you streamer fish, it is a good time to use a 6-7 weight rod if you have one, also remember to use a shorter leader with a heavier tippet 1x-3x. Articulated streamers have more motion and are more easily seen by the fish. We have a large selection of Kelly Galloup streamers in stock, expensive but effective. Small fish and a few larger rainbows are being caught but not in great numbers.
August 25, 2019
Used TFO BVK 12'6" 6/7 spey rod with 0X Fluoro leader and 1x Rio fluroflex plus tippet. Started with sz 4 white iron sides with sz 6 blue and white gervais gray as a dropper (you can do that with a spey rod without worrying about sticking a stainless steel hook in the back of your head). Caught one on the gervais gray around 7:50 p.m.. Switched to circus peanut but no hits. Switched to black beastmaster (the go to fly this year just like other years) around 8:10 pm and caught 4 more stripers, all schoolies except one 22 incher. The pattern remains the same - the fish are smaller, fewer and farther in between, there are still some big fish, but it is more rare now. The fishing may be slow for a while, but often there is a 45-60 minute window where the activity picks up noticeably; you have to be there when that happens. The hits are often more subtle, so you have to be ready to set the hook and set it hard if you have a lot line out, like I often do. Broke one off on the 1x fluoro, so I have started adding a 18 inch 0x fluoro section to my leader and then a 20-24 inch 1x fluoro tippet (13lb test). When I change to a black beastmaster around dark, I cut off the 1x tippet and tie the beastmaster to the 0x which keeps me from having to retie my leader and gives me 16 lb test for the bigger fish that often come out to play at night!
August 7, 2019
Used TFO Deer Creek 13'0" 7/8 wt. with fluoro leader and 1x fluro tippet. Started with sz 4 white iron sides with sz 6 gray and white gervais gray as a dropper (you can do that with a spey rod without worrying about sticking a stainless steel hook in the back of your head). No hits on those 2 flies which worked earlier in the week. Around 8:15 switched to sz 4 non-articulated black beastmaster. Caught 1st striper around 8:30 p.m. and last at 9:06 p.m. All 4 were caught on the black beastmaster and were small -18 inches and smaller. This is typical for the Saluda this time of year, the fish are smaller, fewer and farther in between. There are still some big fish, caught a 27 incher last week, but it is more rare now. The fishing may be slow for a while, but often there is a 45-60 minute window where the activity picks up noticeably; you have to be there when that happens, sometimes it does not happen at all, then you get skunked!
A few more observations:
Fish with whatever you wish until there is just enough light to tie on one more fly, then tie on a black fly.
I have learned the hard way recently that you need to be ready when you make your first cast. Have the drag set and don't be fiddling around with your equipment when you are letting your line out or making the first cast. I have lost two nice fish recently by not being ready and alert when I was letting the line out or making the first cast. You will not get a fish on every first cast, but you will get a disproportionate number of strikes on the first presentation to a "fresh fish."
I made a friend of mine (a novice fly fisherman) use my lycra stripping guard when we were fishing last week. I told him the line would glide over his finger smoother when he was stripping the line in, and he would feel the strike much easier. He did, and he caught 3 stripers and missed 2 or 3 more. I always use a stripping guard when I am fishing streamers for trout, bass, bream, stripers, smallmouth or salt water fish. I have a few in stock at $4.99 for 2 guards.
July 21, 2019
Despite the heat, the water quality has improved. Some nice trout are being taken. Striper bite is still good and can last well into the evening. The circus peanut is still the hot fly. Mostly schoolies with a few bigger fish mixed in but still a lot of fun. Remember that in certain areas of the Saluda, you cannot keep trout or stripers
July 14, 2019
Fishing at what was hopefully the end of the unsafe water advisory (thanks to the Congaree Riverkeeper for all he does). Water was off color, so I thought I would try something white. Tried a white articulated circus peanut and had good success. As I said there are now larger fish in the Saluda and 0x Rio Fluoroflex Plus gives you a little margin for error and is still about the same visibility of lighter monofilament. Even the schoolies are a lot of fun especially on my TFO Deer Creek 13'0" 7/8 spey rod, as the longer lever actually favors the fish and makes for a good fight especially in the current.
July 6, 2019
Striper fishing only with TFO BVK 10'0" 8 weight rod which is a perfect rod for wading for stripers. The extra foot helps keep the line off the water on those long backcasts, and it has enough backbone to throw larger flies and fight something other than schoolies. Started off about 6:15 p.m. but nothing at that location. Switched places and got first fish at about 7:20 on size 4 navy and white Gervais Gray. No more activity until 7:45 and then it was slow. Tried an old fly (the white ironsides - at least that is my name for it) I had tied a few years back on a regular ss hook; had a large fish on for about 40 seconds until he went downstream and the hook pulled out. That is why I am now tying my striper flies in smaller sizes on Kona super strong stinger hooks for extra hooking power and strength. Sz 2 and above, I am using Gamakatsu B10S stinger hooks or Kona super strong stinger hooks. Not sure how it would have turned out if the fly had been tied on the Kona hook, but it could not have hurt. I then did what I always do when I miss a fish, I sharpened the hook Caught a few more on the white ironsides. Then I dropped a gray and white size 6 Gervais Gray in gray and white behind the lead fly and had some nice fishing for about 45 minutes. Caught a total of 10 on white ironsides, navy and white Gervais Gray, gray and white Gervais Gray and sz 2 black beastmaster. Only one being 24 inches and the rest being schoolies. Remember if you fish at RE, you must have a current pass properly displayed, park in the designated 4 parking spots, and abide by the hours of one before dawn and one hour after dark. The rules are being much more strictly enforced now, and violators are not eligible for future passes and are subject to trespassing charges. Don't forget to make sure your fishing license is current!
June 19, 2019
Well after weeks of low water on the Saluda, the river level jumped up to 10,000 cfs due to all the rain. It is finally back down to wadeable levels and cleared out. Stripers are in the Saluda, and it is a good thing since it is illegal to fish for them in the Congaree. A size 4 or 6 navy and white Gervais Gray, preferably tied on a Kona super strong stinger hook for extra hooking power and strength, has been my best fly . There are some larger fish in the Saluda now so don't just try to strip them in by hand until you know how big it is, when in doubt put it on the reel.
Tuesday June 12, 2018.
Well, I have finally recovered enough from rotator cuff surgery to start fishing again, but not with a spey rod. The stripers are all up and down the Saluda. The best fly for me so far has been a black size 2 beastmaster tied on a Gamakatsu B10S stinger hook. Prime time has been between 8:15 and 9:15 p.m. Watch out for the thunderstorms and make sure to carry your headlamp(s) and wading staff. Remember after June 15, 2018, you cannot attempt to catch stripers in the Congaree and catch and release only in the Saluda. Send your striper pics, your trout pics, your bass pics and any other fish pics for the photo gallery.
Sunday June 17, 2018.
Water dropped a little, tried several different flies but had best success with small black articulated beastmaster which was good enough for a few schoolies. Once again 8:15-9:15 seems to be prime time.
Tuesday June 19, 2018.
Water level was at about 940, so still a little hard wading. Did not start until about 8:15. Tried several flies and missed one on small clouser. About 8:45 switched to small black articulated beastmaster. On 2d cast landed 24 inch striper pictured above , then 12 inch schoolie. Action slowed down, so I switched to small tan and brown beastmaster and landed 20 inch striper and missed another. Lightning ran me out at about 9:40. BTW I was using a 10'0" 8 weight Temple Fork BVK rod. I think the extra foot helps me keep the fly line up higher on the backcast when I am waist deep in the river and has enough backbone to cast larger flies and pull the stripers upstream to land them . https://tforods.com/bvk-fly-rods/ I paired the rod with an old teton tioga 8
Thursday June 21, 2018.
A longtime friend from Greenville who happens to be an expert fly tier, rod builder, multi species fisherman and student of fly fishing history and entomology was in town. I took him fishing. The water was low (740 cfs) and clear and the rocks were slick. Started about 8, I persuaded him to try a small articulated black beastmaser tied on a Gamakatsu sz 2 B10S hook. He immediately had several strikes and proceeded to land 6 stripers ranging from 10 inches to 22 inches over the next 2 hours all on the same fly and had several other strikes. I was using my new TFO BVK 12'8" spey rod https://tforods.com/bvk-spey-fly-rods/ and Ross CLA 4 reel I bought from the estate reels (still 1 left for sale - smooth as real butter) https://flysouthsc.com/shop?keywords=cla&olsPage=products%2Fross-cla-4-reel-still-in-box-from-estate What a sweet outfit , the BVK Spey is lighter than the Deer Creek rods I have but can still throw lots of line and big flies. I was standing 14 feet in front of a tree so my friend could have the spot with backcast room for his traditional fly rod. I tried several flies and ended up catching a 20 incher and a 22 incher on a medium sized black beastmaster. Quit about 10:35. I asked my friend why he thought big predatory fish liked to hang in deep water below fast water shelfs.
His answer can be summarized as follows: LGS. Lazy, greedy and scared.
Lazy: do not want to swim against the current or waste energy getting food unless absolutely necessary. Greedy: They want the best spot where the fast current funnels the most food to them. Scared: Left over instincts from when they were small and deeper water provided cover from aerial predators.
Tips: Even if you are not wading far, carry a wading staff; the rocks are slippery in the dark and even with a good headlamp it is hard to see the rocks and depth of the water. Have a good headlamp (actually 2 in case 1 goes out), test them before you go and make sure it is at least 150 lumens, a cheap headlamp is not much better than no headlamp at all.
Send me your fish pics
Beastmaster fly in black
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August 18, 2020