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Discovering the Saluda

    Since I moved to Greenwood, SC., I have begun the fun and exhausting task of exploring all of my new home waters. Sometimes I run into a stretch of river that seems lifeless, but other times I find a great piece of water where life abounds.  The Saluda river, both above and below Lake Greenwood, seems to be a canít miss for bass no matter what section you are on.

    Above the lake, you will encounter two types of black bass Ė largemouth and redeyes. The largemouth will generally hang out in the slower sections, while the redeyes inhabit the swift and rocky shoals.

A pair of beautifully colored redeye bass

Redeyes don't always have the dark bands, as evidenced by this one.

    You can fish any set of shoals above lake Greenwood and catch plenty of these little but pretty redeye bass. Usually they have dark bands on them, but not always. Try using small spinnerbaits, Beetle Spins or a Rebel Crawfish to catch these fish. I have also had success on small Texas-rigged plastic worms. Throw anywhere there is some slack water in the shoals Ė behind a rock, in a small eddy, or just in front of the rapid. They typically donít get any bigger than 12 inches, but when the largemouth are tight lipped, they can save your day on the river!

Typical Redeye bass habitat

    Speaking of largemouth, the upper Saluda is full of them! However, the Saluda is also full of cover, both above and below the lake, so it makes getting your bait to them difficult. If there is one thing a lazy largemouth knows how to do it is hide deep in thick cover. In between the shoals there will be slower and deeper water, try these sections when fishing for these bucketmouths. I like to fish a jig-n-pig in thick logjams to catch the bigger fish. However, I have had good success on spinnerbaits, flukes and Texas-rigged worms. If you can get a topwater lure into their haunts early in the morning or late in the evening you may just land a lunker over 10lbs!

Many nice sized largies like this are waiting for you in the Saluda.

The river is also full of panfish and catfish if that is what you are after. Often I see many bream in the river and occasionally while bass fishing I hook into one. Plump bream like this one are a great sign of a riverís health.

Even if the bass fishing on the Saluda north of Lake Greenwood is off, the scenery is well worth the trip.

A few deer decide to snack by the river.

I guess I don't look too intimidating because even this muskrat fails to yield as my kayak and I came floating through.

Be careful when around logs and overhanging limbs on the river, they are prime snake hangouts.

Looks like the beaver family has been hard at work on this home.

    Below Lake Greenwood the shoals taper off a bit, and we lose the redeyes but pick up a much larger species Ė the striped bass. It is possible to catch stripers above the lake, but below the lake all the way to Lake Murray is renowned for being an excellent striped bass fishery. I have yet to catch one or target them, but I have seen several in the water while fishing for largemouth. Reports of 20 to 30 pounders are very common. Try using bucktail jigs or large Bomber stickbaits for these monsters. They like to hang out near shoals and swift water so be sure to make a few casts for them whenever you see some swift water with a lot of rock around. The water is a little cooler and clearer coming out of the dam, so a lot of the stripers will hang out there all summer after their spring run up the river. Also, be aware that the dam can release water at any time so be cautious when fishing the stretch of river below the lake.

I just knew the southern portion of the river would hold big fish after taking a look at all the life that was in and above the water. The scenery here is just as unique as the northern reaches of the river.

The largemouth fishing below the lake all the way down to Lake Murray is excellent. This lunker was caught with a jig in a thick log jam. Make sure you have a vessel that will allow you to work down the river slowly because it is that kind of patience you will need to score a river lunker. I must admit, I usually lack that patience.

Here are a few more solid fish that the Saluda can produce

    Besides striped bass and largemouth you will also run across bowfin and chain pickerel. Be careful when handling these fish because they have sharp teeth that can really do some damage to your hand. Pliers are a must have on this river.

    The river is best fished out of a kayak or canoe, but there are some places where a jon boat will work just fine. Try buying a South Carolina Atlas to find put ins or takeouts. Most all the bridges along the river will give you access as well as below some of the various dams on the river. You can also purchase the Canoeing and Kayaking Guide to the Carolinas to get more information about the river and the access points along it. However, your best bet to get first hand knowledge about the Saluda, or any other SC river, is to join the message board on this site and just ask your fellow South Carolina river fisherman.

All in all a day on the Saluda is a refreshing experience. I usually leave the river thinking about the next unexplored stretch and how I can figure out a way to make time to get back to such a beautiful piedmont river!
 

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