Under the Surface: Fishing in the Upstate

by Clint Keels

An old hobby I’m looking to circle back on with my little girl in time will be the simple joys and independent marvels found in fishing.

From the time I could sit up, Daddy had me in a one-man boat between his legs on the Black and Lynches River. He put a Bream Buster in my hand when I found some balance and that gateway drug has left me chasing the dragons of adventure from Santee to the Gulf of Aden.

 

fishing

 

Zebco 33s slowly became replaced by Ambassadors and Lews bait casters when I came up with enough money and skill of my own after obsessing over them in a tattered Bass Pro Master Catalog. (Big shout out to those who remember doing anything like that with any catalog!) By the time I was ten, I’d caught enough Grouper, Dorado, Largemouth, and Redbreast to fill up Trailblazer Park from stage to rail, all thanks to a knowledge base instilled by my father, stepfather, and uncles. 

 

fishing in the Upstate

 

Parents often scratch their heads on how to bring something new to the fold for children and it’s something I’m surely going to brace for and keep an ear to the ground about when mine gets mobile. In the words of my wife, “presentation is key”. Objectively, the idea of learning anything is presentation. Hobbies, education, disciplines – all that we do is pretty foundational and the legs under any of it have an origin somewhere.

Learning to fish at an early age has let a sense of self sufficiency overlap with other tasks I’ve run across in life too. 

If you’re an angler yourself or looking for a new family pastime, a good introduction to hook, line and sinker can be found right here in our big backyard of North Greenville County.

 

fishing near TR

 

Tall Pines off Moody Bridge Road is a great place to build that foundation.

Starting out with a Bream Buster or a simple spinning reel combo and some light tackle can provide hours of enjoyment for grown folks and little ones. Live bait, like crickets, night crawlers and minnows, can be used to lure small panfish and even the occasional bass when placed on one of those small Eagle Claw hooks with a few light pieces of BB shot and a cork. If live bait isn’t your thing, beetle spins, rooster tails, and Panther Martins (all artificial bait) come in an assortment of colors and sizes that work fine. Just bring a pair of small needle nose pliers along for hook swallows and weird bites.

 

fishing in SC

 

There is a general rule to holes stacked with those iridescent beauties where it becomes more like catching than it does fishing. If there’s one, there’s a thousand and they’re sure to keep any short attention span extended bite after bite, flip after flip. 

The iconic Largemouth Bass has long been a prize haul for serious and recreational anglers. Thriving year round in our area from Jocassee to Greenwood, the Largemouth requires a bit more skill to land but won’t elude beginners altogether either. They’ll typically take to sandy floored beds during springtime and can be caught early in the morning and late afternoon with floating worms and topwater plugs like Zara Spooks, Devil Horses, or buzz baits.

Other than the near bank shallows of beds, Largemouths are a year round transient species of that will roam depths and structure too. Any kind of stumps, tree debris and lily pad stands are Largemouth havens, begging a Rat-L-Trap, jig or Carolina rigged bubble gum worm to drag through and tempt. Shallow diving crank baits and weighted plastic worms or lizards are also ideal to toss in the shadows of low hanging branches or the center of whatever water you’re on. Make sure to find a good rod and reel combo when going after Largemouths and use a 12-15 pound test monofilament line. Most sporting good stores (like Dodson) are happy to help get you into something from novice to pro use. 

 

pacific Dorado

 

A love for all things outside rates a top shelf place in the beloved halls of Travelers Rest Here. Pictures of trails, water, and hills of rock find our screens most Friday mornings via inbox pings and numbered red circles. In fact, Travelers Rest, the town, is balancing the bar for the Upstate when it comes to that access and buzz. The impending living and retail space between Bojangles and Hardees is cementing that notion and in no time, new seekers will descend closer to the wilds of Earthen magic.

An aching crave for connection to nature lies in every cell of blood running through every human, biologically tethering us to the planet and her creatures and that’s a dead horse I won’t stop beating on until I’m out of breath. A razor thin balance of first world engineering and a 2021 desire for warp speed immediacy in Americans certainly keeps us on our toes out here.

Although fishing has evolved beyond cordage and primitive seines, there is still a beautiful reverence found in its modern practice as a connection to what we are. Just beneath the surface of our reflections lies the lessons and the gifts of creatures unfazed by the ills of one another and that is a sense of peace gold offers no human. 

 

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Looking for some Upstate fishing holes? Check out our article here.

Tag along on a day on the Saluda River with one of our readers here.

Visit our own local fishing shop – Dodson Fishing Company.

 

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