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Fly Fishing the Chattooga River in Spring

The Chattooga River offers an unforgettable angling experience for fly fishermen (and women) seeking trout in a wild and rustic environment.

My number one piece of advice? Get lost. The Chattooga, like any other stocked trout stream, holds fish that see flies from the moment they are put into the river until the moment they are harvested. Angling pressure, in other words, can be substantial. And trout are no dummies. They learn quickly to become skeptical of everything that looks un-natural. Even the slightest of footsteps will send them screaming away. Thus, if you’re looking for productive streteches of the river, get lost. Literally. Hike in as far as you can. Walk until you cannot see or hear people. Seek the remote. You will be rewarded for your efforts: the fish become less skeptical and more willing to take your flies. I might recommend parking at the Highway 28 lot and hiking up the Chattooga River Trail for a mile or two. I’ve yet to be disappointed in doing so.

My second piece of advice for springtime fishing on the ‘tooga: Arrive early and stay late. Some of the most productive fishing trips I’ve had on the Chattooga were when I’ve been able to devote a whole day to my guilty pleasure. When I say arrive early, I mean it. Pulling up to the river 15-30 minutes before sunrise will serve you well. There is a period of the morning, from around 7:00 to 10:00, where the fishing picks up substantially. It’s that point in the day when things are in the process of heating up before they plateau. You can literally watch the river wake up. The same holds true for the evening, except opposite. Look for that point in the day when things are cooling down. Usually from around 6:45 to dark, is what I’m talking about. An d just when you think it is too dark for fishing, throw a couple more casts. Big browns tend to feed in low light conditions. I’d recommend hitting the river early, spending mid-day doing something non-fishing – hiking, birdwatching, photographing, etc-and ending your trip fishing until dark.

Finally, my last piece of advice for springtime fishing on the Chattooga is to go see the fine folks at the Chattooga River Fly Shop. If you get the rare privilege to step in when Karl is working, you will be set. He has a comprehensive understanding of the Chattooga, its bugs and how fishing works. All you have to do is ask for some bug advice, and he will tell you exactly what to throw. This is not just a shameless advertising plug. Trust me when I say that the folks over at the Chattooga River Fly Shop know their stuff.