South Carolina Trout Fishing
South Carolina is a very underrated state when it comes to trout fishing, but anglers who have trout-fished the state know that it is one of the best in the south. Many of the rivers hold native and wild trout, and the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery stocks many rivers, lakes, and streams on a weekly basis. I’ve fished the state for years, and below are the places I love to fish. To avoid including too many links in this article, just do a Google search to find specific directions, or email me or post your questions in the comments section.
1. Lake Jocassee
Lake Jocassee is a flooded valley that is 389 ft. at its deepest point. The water is incredibly clear, and in some parts, you can see the bottom at 20 ft. or more. Jocassee also holds the state record for both brown and rainbow trout. The trout hold in deep water on the lake, so having a boat and downriggers really helps. Trolling with spoons or live bait works well, and if you are having to fish from the bank, use a lot weight and try spinners like Rooster Tails or Panther Martins. There are also plenty of nice campsites available at Jocassee (about $20 per night) right on the lake, so it’s a great place to spend a weekend camping/fishing trip.
2. Chattooga River
The Chattooga River is a remote river that begins in North Carolina and forms the boundary between South Carolina and Georgia. It is perhaps most well-known as the filming site for the movie Deliverance. The Chattooga has Wild and Scenic status, so there is little development near the water. There are a couple of bridges where you can easily access the river (Burrell’s Ford campground and the highway 28 bridge), but for the most part, you have to do a bit of hiking to get to the river. However, the hike is always worth it. The river holds plenty of browns and rainbows, and in some sections there is a good population of wild trout. The river also has a delayed-harvest section above the highway 28 bridge. This section is catch-and-release during a certain part of the year, but it is a great place to catch plenty of fish. The Chattooga is great for fly fishing, but using a spinning outfit works well too. If you are into fly fishing, make sure you stop by the Chattooga Fly Shop. They will give you more information about hatches and spots than you could ever ask for. You can camp along most of the Chattooga River, so planning a camping/backpacking/fishing trip is a great way to spend some time on this beautiful stretch of water.
3. Eastatoe River
The Eastatoe River is mainly a stocked river and a great place to spend some time trout fishing. I’ve never had much success fly fishing this river, but spinners and natural baits (worms, insects) work great. The best place to access this river at the Dug Mountain Angler Access Area, on Roy F. Jones Road off Highway 11. This place can get pretty crowded under the bridge at Dug Mountain, but the crowds taper off as you go up or downstream. Overall, this is a nice place to spend a day, especially if you have kids or don’t want to walk very far.
4. Pleasant Ridge State Park
This is a nice, free park that includes a stocked trout pond. I’ve caught plenty of fish here, some of pretty good size. This is a great place to have a picnic and spend the day. Bottom fishing is best here, and using PowerBait works great.
5. Chauga River
This is another great river that often gets overshadowed by the Chattooga. The river is frequently stocked with rainbow and brown trout, but there are some wild trout here too. Fly fishing and spin fishing both work great on this river. There is a nice access point under the bridge on Cassidy Bridge Road. Like the Eastatoe, the Chauga does get a bid crowded under the bridge, but lessens as you move up or downstream. I probably fish this river the most, since it is both accessible but remote at the same time. There are plenty of bank fishing opportunities, but if you have waders, you can access some really nice spots that hold some big trout.
Overall, South Carolina is a great place to do some trout fishing. These are the places I fish the most, but there are dozens more. If you have any questions, feel to ask.
If you are interested in more trout fishing tips, check out troutfishingtipshq.com.