Article for November - December 2012
Going After Lower Saluda Trout
Trout can be taken on many types of lightweight tackle, but the small insects and bait fish eaten by them are most easily imitated with lightweight flies cast by heavy fly lines, which makes fly fishing very effective in drawing strikes, while also being a more challenging and sporting way to fish. Large, wary trout respond well to light flies that resemble their natural foods — like the caddis flies, mayflies and stoneflies that are staples of their diets. A favorite pattern is the "Stimulator," an over-dressed caddis fly often used as a large attractor pattern in sizes of 10 or 12 in combination with a smaller fly. Smaller flies like a "Pheasant Tail" nymph or "Copper John" nymph in hook sizes of 18 or greater, tied approximately twenty-four inches below the attractor (tandem rig), are often taken if the bigger fly is not. Bulkier flies, like the popular "Woolly Bugger," and streamer flies that imitate baitfish are also very effective, including those that imitate crayfish, hellgrammites or terrestrial insects like beetles, grasshoppers and even the large cyclical cicadas.
A landing net allows trout to be caught and released quicker without exhausting them. Also, heavier fly rods and stronger nylon leaders than the typical three-to-five pound test lines used for stream trout allow for better casting of larger flies and quicker landings. In fact, many of the larger trout I have caught on the lower Saluda in the past few years have been taken on gear designed for largemouth and stripers!
Spin and bait fishing will certainly catch trout, though often the larger fish are so tuned in to their natural foods that they will not strike anything but flies that closely match those. Releases are also easier with single hook flies that usually catch in the fish’s upper or lower lips. Not damaging the lips by using barbless flies and gentle handling with wet hands are two techniques that help ensure released trout will grow into even larger trophies.
© 2012 South Carolina Wildlife Magazine, November - December 2012 - www.scwildlife.com