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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, 2022Action 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, 2022The 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 o