South Carolina’s Chauga Stuffed with Trout

By: Chris Shaffer

As with all Southeast states South Carolina has been aggressively stocking mountain rivers and streams ahead of the holiday weekend. As expected, the Chauga River has remained a priority. The upper and lower sections of the river were stocked with rainbow, brown and brook trout this week – and lots of them. The river will fish well through Memorial Day and likely then restocked again soon.

We filmed Pautzke Outdoors on the Upper Chauga Tuesday and caught and released dozens of trout. We also filmed here on a different section last night. Meanwhile conditions weren’t ideal. Unfortunately, the thunderstorms that have pounded the region have flows up and visibility low. Still, anglers confident in their bait will catch trout. We caught and released several limits in a few hours.

The downfall revolves around quality. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources did a great job loading the river with rainbow, brook and brown trout. On the other hand, most are only running seven to eight inches. Only a handful reached 10 inches. The good news is that they’ll all fit in a skillet. It was fun to catch three species without shuffling our feet.

The key to success was using bait. While the river is likely to clear daily, midweek visibility was inches not feet. Hopefully by the weekend storms are less frequent and the water clears quicker. Fortunately, fish can be caught now. We proved that even in the poorest of conditions. The river is stuffed with trout. As murky as the water is light line wasn’t necessary. Still we used four-pound test and a size 10 Gamakatsu single egg hook. We only needed a single Water Gremlin split shot and fished all our bait under a float in order to keep from getting snagged.

All the trout were caught on Pautzke Fire Bait. We switched between Garlic Salmon Egg, Peach Garlic and Pink Fire Bait. As soon as the trout grew conditioned to one color we switched to another. On the other hand, we didn’t fish the Fire Bait like most anglers fish dough bait. Because we aimed to release all the trout we drifted it under a float. This helps us see the bite instantly and set the hook. Doing so brings most hook sets in the mouth. To use this technique place a split shot six inches above your hook. This sinks the Fire Bait into the strike zone. Then when you get a bit it’s telegraphed by the bobber.

Editor’s Note: Pautzke Fire Bait is available at Up Country Walmart locations and Bass Pro. For more info on South Carolina trout fishing please visit