Regional Reports-South

southern Appalachians

Except for the occasional wisp of Spanish moss clinging to stately hardwood trees along the bank, the scene could be on almost any stream in the southern Appalachians. Cold, clear water rushes over rocky shoals into quiet pools, then turns and sweeps across shallow, gravelly flats in its downstream flow. But this sight is a two-hour drive from the South Carolina mountains. It is on a nine-mile stretch of the Saluda River, almost within the city limits of Columbia. The Saluda, a put-grow-and-take fishery that flows out of 70-year-old Lake Murray Dam to the west of the capital, is the southeasternmost trout fishery in the United States. "The water temperature is cool because the water comes from the bottom of Lake Murray, and that's why the trout are able to live in this river so far south and east," says Dermon Sox, president of the Saluda River Chapter of Trout Unlimited. "Where you can find places shallow enough to wade, you would think you were in a mountain stream." The trout haven stretches from the base of the dam to the confluence of the Saluda with the Broad River to form the Congaree. The Department of Natural Resources stocks 6,000 rainbow and brown trout each fall, giving the ones that escape the early meat-fishermen a chance to grow into near-adults by spring. Top flies are Blue Wing Olive, Gold-Ribbed Hare's Ear, Prince and Gold Bead nymphs, and the Adams is the suggested dry fly. Ultralight spin-anglers do well with 1/32- to 1/4-ounce Rooster Tails and Panther Martins. Bank-fishermen use crickets and baby night crawlers, and some of the biggest trout are caught by striped bass anglers using cut herring or shad. Rainbows up to three pounds and browns up to six are not uncommon. There are public access points on the river at Saluda Shoals Park-Hope Ferry Landing, behind Riverbanks Zoo and at the Portage Ramp off Bush River Road. Contact: Dermon Sox (803-781-5236); Richard Hall, Lake World Tackle Shop (803-957-6548).