The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) is stocking thousands of catchable-sized rainbow trout (8 to 11 inches) and smaller brown trout (4 to 6 inches) from the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery in Oconee County into the lower Saluda River near Columbia.
This process is done by trucking the trout to four locations in the upper two thirds of the river. The cold waters released from the bottom of Lake Murray provide suitable habitat for the trout, creating a unique and very popular fishery in the Midlands.
SCDNR stocks nearly 30,000 trout each year in the lower Saluda from December through February in what’s called a “put, grow and take” fishery that relies on stocking to maintain populations. Trout grow rapidly after stocking and can exceed 20 inches in one to two years after stocking, which is considered trophy size for this type of fishery.
Be advised, as of July 1, 2018, ”the lower reach of the Saluda River, from the eastbound I-20 bridge downstream to Stacey’s Ledge, is year-round catch and release fishing only for all species of coldwater trout.” It will be “unlawful to take and retain trout at any time” in this section of the river.