By: Chris Shaffer
Trout stocking has been occurring weekly in South Carolina’s Upstate. However, most of the trout plants are taking place in park lakes and special regulation delayed-harvest areas. That will all change in late February as full trout stocking resumes. However, the East fork of the Chattooga River is getting some pretty impressive trout plants right now. Fortunately, this small section of water near the Walhalla Fish Hatchery is open to any type of fishing. All Palmetto State Anglers with a valid fishing license can enjoy this 100-yard section of water adjacent to the state’s largest trout hatchery.
According to hatchery personnel large brook trout were stocked this week and have been frequently released into the East Fork since late fall. This week alone 30 brook trout averaging two pounds we’re stocked. Most of these fish average 17.1 inches. They join frequent plants of rainbow trout as well. Keep in mind this small river is stocked almost every week and provides excellent access for anglers looking to cast lures, fly fish or use bait. Standard daily limits apply here.
Anyone that has been to this section of water knows there isn’t a lot of elbowroom available. The river is planted from the S curve in the road (roughly 100 yards upstream of the hatchery) on down past the culvert that is found at the entrance to the hatchery, at the bridge which connects the hatchery to the wooden boardwalk and then finally at the large pool below the parking area. Where trout are released is no secret. Stocking has been taking place for decades here and is a wonderful resource for anglers looking to catch planted trout. Keep in mind weekends can get crowded because of how heavily stocked this stretch is. Midweek is best for anglers looking to catch more trout.
As most anglers know these trout love bait. They can be caught on various hardware and flies, but bait produces big time here. We recently filmed an entire episode of Pautzke Outdoors and found several baits to be productive. Orange Deluxe salmon eggs, Garlic Salmon Egg Fire Bait and Red and Chartreuse Anise Fire Balls kept our bobbers dropping instantly.
You can view that episode here: https://youtu.be/q1L_aqBLCQY
One of the most important factors when fishing this section of water is maintaining stealth. This river is clear, even after a rainstorm. We recommend using 2 or 4-pound test, and you’ll find even better success with fluorocarbon line. If you use anything larger than 4-pound test there’s a good chance you’re going to diminish the number of bites you get. When it comes to hook size one of the most common mistakes we see anglers make here is using too large of a hook. We would never use anything larger than a size 10 single salmon egg hook when using bait like salmon eggs, Fire Bait or Fire Balls. The same applies to your split shot. A small BB Water Gremlin split shot is recommended. You don’t have to use a small float, but we choose to do so simply because we catch and release fish. When you use a float you can see the bite instantly and set the hook to where it pierces the fish in the mouth rather than the trout swallowing it.
Editor’s Note: Pautzke products are available in Upstate Walmart locations (Easley, both Greenville stores, Seneca, Taylors, Greer, Pickens, Central, Travelers Rest and at Cabelas in Greenville).