The S.C. Department of Natural Resources recently completed stocking more than 100,000 fingerling trout in about 40 mountain streams in northern Oconee, Pickens and Greenville counties.
The S.C. Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) stocks more than 400,000 trout annually to support trout fishing in streams, lakes and two cold tailwaters (waters below a dam). Most anglers are familiar with the popular put-take trout fisheries where catchable trout are routinely stocked in spring and fall to support an immediate angling opportunity. A lesser known fact; however, is the DNR's stocking of more than 100,000 fingerling trout in the headwater reaches of about 40 mountain streams in northern Oconee, Pickens and Greenville counties each year. Fisheries technicians with DNR recently completed this stocking effort in the mountains.
Many Upstate trout streams or segments of certain streams are capable of supporting trout on a year-round basis, but lack habitat or water quality necessary for natural trout reproduction. These often-remote streams are stocked with fingerling trout primarily using a small aluminum fish tank mounted in the bed of a four-wheel-drive pickup truck. Access to some streams is so difficult that an ATV with a small tank mounted on the cargo rack must be used. In several cases trout are dropped through the riser system of dams to seed the remote stream reaches downstream.
The DNR also works cooperatively with the U.S. Forest Service to stock more than 25 miles of backcountry waters on the Chattooga and Chauga rivers using a helicopter.
Some of the more popular trout streams stocked with fingerling trout include: Chattooga (Burrells Ford to SC Highway 28), Chauga River (Land Bridge to Cedar Creek), Cedar Creek, Brasstown Creek, lower Tamassee Creek, and Whetstone Creek in Oconee County; Eastatoee River (lower), Little Eastatoee Creek, Cane Creek, Laurel Fork, Side-of-Mountain, and Reedy Cove Creek in Pickens County; North Saluda, Middle Saluda and lower Matthews Creek in Greenville County.
For more information on trout stocking in Upstate streams, call the Clemson DNR office at (864) 654-6346.
All of the more than 400,000 trout stocked in South Carolina waters each year are reared at the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery north of Walhalla. The Walhalla State Fish Hatchery was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and has proved a steady source of trout for Upstate waters for more than 70 years. The Walhalla State Fish Hatchery is open to visitors daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hatchery tours are available for groups upon request. Please call ahead to make arrangements with hatchery staff at (864) 638-2866.
Funding for the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery and the trout stockings comes from license fees and Sport Fish Restoration Funds, which are derived from a federal excise tax on selected fishing gear and motorboat fuel.
An independent study conducted in 2001 estimated that trout fishing in South Carolina provides more than $17 million to the state's economy.